Updated: Mar 13, 2020
I think an all inclusive list of the lessons learned from the Holocaust could be very long; most Holocaust Scholars and Historians agree with these lessons:
Dr. David Oughton of St. Louis University, who also serves on the Holocaust Museum & Learning Center’s Education Advisory Committee:
“Prejudice can lead to genocide, especially when a powerless group of people is made a scapegoat during terrible economic and social times. There is a need to teach and promote tolerance, understanding, cooperation and appreciation of different ethnic and religious groups. This is a special responsibility of families, schools, governments and the world’s religions.”
Irwin Cotler, Prof. Emeritus at McGill University:
"We have seen the results of state sanctioned incitement to hatred and genocide, we have a responsibility to memory of those who suffered and died to educate to prevent history repeating. As a just society, we need to protect the powerless and vulnerable, recognize the danger of silence and the consequences of indifference, talk truth to the powerful, bring war criminals to justice."
In order for the above lessons to have meaning and be understood, it is necessary to know facts and history. I can only share with you the injustices my father somehow endured, and ask you: What role you will play in building a better humanity?
75 years ago on January 27, Auschwitz was liberated by the Russian Army. The soldiers found inside the camp approximately 7,000 people, who were imprisoned in deplorable conditions suffering from starvation and exhaustion; they also found the bodies of approx. 500 people, who had died or been shot. The majority of the living required medical attention that was provided in field hospitals set up outside the camp. Not all of these victims were Jewish, but all were imprisoned under the Nuremberg Race or other Nazi laws. These people were abandoned in Auschwitz, as they could not walk the distance planned and were no longer of any value to Germans.
Keep in mind, at this point in the War, the Allied Forces were closing in on Hitler, and the Germans were on the run, attempting to destroy evidence of their crimes, and moving prisoners who were still fit to work from camps throughout Poland to camps in Germany.
When Auschwitz was liberated 75 years ago today, my dad was walking with 6 to 10,000 thousand other prisoners. It was day 6 of a 12 day death march out of Blechhammer, a sub-camp of Auschwitz, to Gross-Rosen concentration camp -- a total of 118 miles.
The temperatures were below freezing, they walked 10 to12 hours per day; more than likely, there was snow on the ground some or all of the days; they did not have snow boots, warm clothes or winter coats; prisoners were given a small portion of bread and margarine, and artificial honey as food for the trip; they slept a few hours per night along the way. [As Ben mentioned in the video,] if you stopped walking, you were shot and left for the animals to eat or possibly your body was picked up and discarded in a mass grave along the route. Think about the effort and resources it took for the Nazis to effect these death marches: the number of guards, guns, logistics, and train transports.
My dad was in Gross-Rosen for five days; he was then on the train transport with a few thousand other people arriving at Buchenwald Concentration Camp on February 10, where he remained until being liberated in April 1945.
As a young adult, I often heard comments of the German people as the "doers of all evil" Now, as life has it, one of my closest friends is of German descent; getting to know one another, she learned that my father was a Survivor, before I learned that her father was forced into the Hitler youth. I do not hold her responsible for the crimes against my dad, his family, and the Jewish and other people targeted by the Germans during WWII. Last year I when I went to Germany, I made a decision to travel with an open heart and mind, and as a result I met several deeply compassionate people. I have shared the letter I received from one of these people on the subject of lessons learned along with several other letters I also received. You can follow the link below to read: