Last Sunday, January 27, was International Holocaust Remembrance Day. To remember the Holocaust is necessary not only to preserve the accuracy of the historical record, but to help prevent future genocides as well. One of the reasons why genocide can exist is because those who could prevent it may be unable to understand that it could happen without their intervention. During World War Two, initial reports of the Holocaust were disbelieved because it was inconceivable to the Allies that the Nazis would divert so much in effort and resources to genocide and away from combat. The failure of the Allies to make a stronger effort to use military force to disrupt the Holocaust in progress made it easier for the Nazis to implement and maintain their murderous program. Today, in America, in Europe, in the Middle East, and throughout the world there is a global movement of fascists and anti-Semites who deny the Holocaust ever happened. To what purpose? To lull us into thinking that another Holocaust cannot happen? To discourage us from vigilance to prevent it from happening? To make genocide thereby easier to start and harder to stop in the future?
The Holocaust is by no means the only example of genocide. The slaughter of Armenians by the Turks, the forced starvation of millions in the Ukraine by the Soviet government in the 1930s (the “Holodomor”), the Japanese slaughter of the Chinese in Nanjing in the 1930s, the Communist slaughter of the Chinese in the 1960s and the Cambodians in the 1970s, as well as the murder of five million Gentiles in the Nazi concentration camps in addition to the six million Jews, are also among the mass murders which have blackened the history of the twentieth century. But the Holocaust is noteworthy not only for its astronomical number of victims either shot or gassed on capture, or worked to death through a regimen of slave labor and induced starvation, but also because it was the product of the merger of modern technology and managerial systems with ancient and irrational hatred.
And the Holocaust is also the most documented of the genocides. Anticipating the rise of Holocaust denial, one of the first orders General Eisenhower issued when American and Allied forces liberated the Nazi concentration camps was to photograph, film, and otherwise document the enormity of the crimes discovered in Auschwitz, Treblinka, and elsewhere. In his drive to preserve evidence of Nazi atrocities, Eisenhower was unwittingly helped by the Nazis’ themselves, whose passion for keeping records, captured by the allies, of their evil matched the evil they committed.
General Eisenhower’s work continues to this day. Perhaps most notable is the work of the Shoah Foundation, founded by Steven Spielberg and headquartered at the University of Southern California, to collect and preserve the testimony of Holocaust survivors who want to witness against the Holocaust deniers. To that end, the Foundation has collected and videotaped the testimony of thousands of Holocaust survivors, as well as the testimony of the survivors of the genocides and atrocities in Rwanda, Cambodia, Armenia, Guatemala, and Nanjing.
The work of the Shoah Foundation and other truth-tellers is, if possible, even
Malcolm L. Cross has lived in Stephenville and taught politics and government at Tarleton since 1987. His political and civic activities include service on the Stephenville City Council (2000-2014) and on the Erath County Republican Executive Committee (1990 to the present). He was Mayor Pro Tem of Stephenville from 2008 to 2014. He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the Stephenville Rotary Club, and does volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole.