Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day. The war ended 62 years ago, and the vast majority of the survivors and perpetrators are dead. Why do we still care?
Is it, as the Muslims want the world to believe, a Zionist ploy to garner the sympathy vote in world politics? Aside from the fact that such a ploy, if it existed, is failing miserably, only someone utterly incapable of understanding the human condition would either advance or believe that kind of logic.
Is it so Jews can glory in their “special” victim status? There may be an element of that, because Jews have been victimized for racial/ethnic/religious reasons in a way that is still unparalleled. There have been other mass killings genocidal killings but either the numbers haven’t been as “impressive” (Armenians, Tutsis) or the other killings, while “boasting” way more impressive killing numbers, haven’t reflected a determinedly genocidal goal to stamp out an entire race of human beings (communist excesses, everywhere). But I still don’t think that’s the answer.
So why do we still make a big deal of the Holocaust? I think we do because it was the Germans who did it. And I don’t mean by this that we should make Germans suffer to the third and fourth and umpteenth generation, no matter that these generations have no blood on their hands. Modern Germans are no more culpable than modern Americans.
No. That it was the Germans who did it matters because they were considered at the time, by themselves and by many others around the world, to be the world’s most civilized nation. Their culture gave birth to unparalleled levels of cultural beauty and scientific knowledge. They were friendly, organized, sophisticated, thoughtful, musical — you name it. And they were the ones who came up with the idea to wipe out an entire race — not just to purge it from their geographic boundaries, as nations have done forever, but to hunt this race down at every point on the earth and destroy it. And they bent their extraordinary capabilities to that task — their science, their organizational skills, everything.
And if the Germans, the sophisticated, charming Germans, could do that, any nation can. Massacres are not reserved to decaying cultures and tribal people. It can happen here. So we remember — we refuse to forget — to make sure that it doesn’t happen here.