Lessons from the Holocaust

August 4, 2017

Night Will Fall. Unless we learn – that’s what will happen. And, now, more than 70 years after the holocaust, we continue to refuse to learn. 

It’s a documentary that every person alive should see – in particular, I think that every American should see it. This is what we become when we look the other way. This is what we become when we resort to hate. This is what we become when we refuse to allow others “in” because they are different than ourselves. 

The film documents the making of another film – by Bernstein and Alfred Hitchcock. The idea was to document the liberation of concentration camps at the end of WWII, while also filming the atrocities that took place there. They wanted photographic evidence of what happened. They were using relatively new technology, and military men were hired to be videographers. 

Needless to say, the images are horrifying. I had to continue with my knitting while watching it, and I could only view it in small chunks. What’s worse was realizing that the film was literally shelved for 70 years, and for political reasons. 

The unfortunate truth is that the Americans and British decided not to release the film to the public, because they didn’t want the public to feel empathy for these horribly displaced persons. You see – they had no place to go and the Americans and the British stated rather publicly that they didn’t want to take any of them in. Does this sound familiar? You bet – it’s going on in Syria today. We never learn – Hitler, Milosevic, Pol Pot, the list goes on….. 

Instead, the Americans released a very short film about the atrocities, and they made it into something like a newsreel. It was sort of like “well, here’s what happened – the Germans suck, moving right along.” 

At the end of the war, and the end of the liberation of these camps, there was a very real humanitarian crisis. Hundreds of thousands of people were literally homeless and stateless, and they had horrific psychological and physical ailments. The vast majority of them did not wish to return to where they came from and can we possibly blame them? Would you wish to return to live next to neighbors who had systematically tortured you for 12+ years, destroyed your homes and futures, robbed you of your dignity, and exterminated basically everyone you ever knew and loved? I think not. And, so – many of them went to Palestine. The sad truth, is that they were subjected to living in camps there as well! These reviled people were systematically tortured for more than a decade, then sent to another place that didn’t want them. Nobody wanted them – nobody anywhere, in spite of what they had suffered. 

The films were used to some good. Luckily, they were used as video and photographic evidence of atrocities committed during the Nuremberg war crimes trials. And, we can use them as photographic evidence of atrocities today. The unfortunate, and wildly insane, truth is that people today still deny that anything happened. They seem to be convinced that it is a Hollywood lie with millions of extras in makeup. Sickening that people can shove something like this under the rug. 

I hope that every single person in America today views this film. In particular, I hope that every single person who has cheered at a Trump rally for keeping people out watches this film. Shame on you. Shame on all of you. 

Teach the world love and – guess what? Love trumps hate. Every. Single. Time. 

Deuteronomy 32:7 (NRSV): Remember the days of old, consider the years long past; ask your father, and he will inform you; your elders, and they will tell you.

Serve all with love.

Photo courtesy of: stocksnap.io


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