Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp was liberated on this day, January 27, in 1945. Today, the world remembers that 17 million souls, including one-third of the global population of Jews, were murdered in the genocide of the Nazi regime.
How is it possible that such atrocities were committed?
First, the Nazis began by portraying Jews and other ethnicities as “other”. All were seen as subhuman, as vermin and animals. Hitler used fear-mongering and debasement to stoke hatred. From this environment of fear and blame, concentration camps were built, children were torn from their parents, and human beings incinerated in ovens.
Second, every day, decent people did not speak up.
Since the liberation of the camps, the world has stood on guard so that “Never Again” would atrocities like this occur.
And yet, here we are in 2019, and genocides are still happening in countries around the world. People are being murdered and starved to death for simply being seen as “other.”
The world is experiencing the largest refugee crisis of all time. Sixty-five million people are on the move, fleeing their homes, looking for safety, escaping violence and destruction. Many are forced to leave their homes with nothing but the clothes on their back. Just like the Jews in Hitler’s Germany.
We must refuse to participate in any language that leads to the vilification and dehumanization of other human beings. We need to resist the name-calling and fear-incitement of the Other because we already know too well where this leads. It is happening NOW. It is happening HERE.
The only safeguard is to practice and teach ourselves to see God in each other’s eyes. On this Holocaust Remembrance Day, make a pledge to yourself and others:
1. Never Again
2. I will speak up.