The question of whether “we” have learnt from the Holocaust can only be answered through clarifying what lessons were meant to be learnt from the Holocaust. The crucial lessons that were meant to be learnt from the Holocaust include the importance of remembrance, the dangers of states given absolute power without legal framework and the consequences of indifference.
Six million victims died of the Holocaust. The majority were persecuted because they were Jewish, the others because they were communists, gypsies, disabled, or members of political opposition groups. Anti-Semitism wasn’t a newly introduced concept by the Nazis. However, the Nazi Regime amplified the prejudices against the Jewish population with propaganda. Anti-Semitism is just one form of prejudice, Xenophobia and Islamophobia are also forms of prejudice that have become popular in the 21st century. It is important to remember the Holocaust because it is an example of what prejudice can evolve into.
Less than three months after the Enabling Act was passed,all non-Nazi parties, organizations, and labourunions ceased to exist. Germany hadturned into atotalitarian state with absolute powerover the life and death of its citizens. This was demonstratedin 1938during “Kristallnacht” when ninety-one Jewish people were murdered by the SA.Before the Nazi Party rose, Germany was a democratic nation. “Kristallnacht” is now known as the beginning of the Holocaust. The dangers of states given absolute power was demonstrated through the number of people killed. Ninety-one had risen to six million. A research study by the US state department concluded that there are currently 123 democracies in the world out of 192 countries.The world has progressed in the lesson of a democratic society.
The Holocaust taught us that it is important to speak up or act against any type of intolerance. The Nazis disliked Jews simply because they were Jews, the Nazis viewed themselves as the “Aryan” and “Master race”. The Holocaust taught us not to remain silent about the atrocities we witness. An example of remaining silent was the limited reaction after Kristallnacht. Another example of indifference is the Western world’s indifference to the conflict in Darfur, the UN’s indifference to the Khmer Rouge’s regime that had killed 1.7 million people. In terms of realising the consequences of indifference, we haven’t progressed at all.
In conclusion, we haven’t learnt from the Holocaust. There are many aspects about the Holocaust that make it a “unique” genocide. However we are still not acknowledging inhuman acts.