There is currently so much turmoil in the world. People are once again being divided into groups that seem to hate each other for no apparent reason. Monuments are being destroyed, movies are being removed from view, and history is practically being erased. We should not be trying to erase history, we should be studying history and trying to learn from it so that we do not repeat the same mistakes. I will do my part to confront indifference and hatred by educating myself about others and ensuring that I do not become immune to their plights.
It is important that I am not part of the problem, and that I confront indifference and hatred personally to set the example for others. To do that, I believe education is key. I took this class for that purpose, to help educate myself on what the Holocaust involved and to hopefully understand why it happened. Now that we are at the end of the class, I am much more knowledgeable about how the holocaust occurred, but not so much about the why. I am not sure there is a good answer as to why humans are so willing to hurt each other, arguably for their benefit, and to be so easily swayed by what the government is telling them. During the Nazi revolution, Hilter used “persecution print and visual propaganda…to disseminate stereotypes, normalize stigmatization, and further isolate Jews and other targets of abuse” (Bergen 76). The propaganda circulated by Hilter only told the people what he wanted them to hear. To me, it appears the same issue arises today through mass media. To combat that, I try to do independent research on the subject and form my own opinions instead of allowing propaganda to dictate my beliefs and actions.
When it comes to the holocaust, Hitler succeeded because he preyed on existing fear and prejudice and, even though many did not agree, several were too afraid to stand up against Nazi Germans for fear of being outcasts themselves. As discussed in The Sunflower, “Although the Radicals formed a mere 20 percent of the students, this minority reigned because of the cowardice and laziness of the majority” (Wiesenthal 19). I will help confront indifference and hatred and refuse to let others get away with bias and prejudice in front of me. If I see it happening, I will speak up and defend those being attacked regardless of the potential consequences to myself.
Hilter was looking to rid the world of anyone he deemed unworthy and create a “better race” and provide enough room for that race to thrive. He suggested his cause would make the lives of German’s better. Hitler “removed the police from the framework of the administration and judicial system of the German state. Police operations ordered by Hitler through the SS-police chain of command would no longer be constrained by judicial or administrative review. Hitler as Führer could authorize all such actions, including individual and mass murder, on the basis of his “will” to ensure the survival of the German race-nation. Such authorization was not subject to the laws of the state or international law” (Encyclopedia). Something I can do personally today is to not allow propaganda circulated by mass media to alter my opinion of law enforcement. Defunding the police sounds to me like Hilter’s initial act of altering the police framework so that he could control it all without oversight. I am open to police reform, but I do not believe it is a good idea for the government to control police operations autonomously.
For me, the best revenge against Hitler was the fact that “in the years immediately following the war, Jewish survivors living in DP camps produced an extraordinary baby boom” (Bergen 309). It was if the Jewish people were intent on never letting hatred win and ensuring that the Jewish nationality continued despite the decimation of their people. I am hopeful the future generations will get to hear about the holocaust, to understand the atrocities suffered by the Jews and other targeted groups, to empathize with them and to be courageous enough to stand up and ensure nothing like this happens again.
- Bergen, Doris. War and Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust (Critical Issues in World and International History). Third, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2016, ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/csub/reader.action?docID=4403275.
- “SS and Police.” The Holocaust Encyclopedia, encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/ss-and-police. Accessed 30 June 2020.
- Wiesenthal, Simon. The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness (Newly Expanded Paperback Edition). Revised, Expanded, Subsequent, Schocken, 1998.