Last week, several campus offices and organizations including the Library hosted a Holocaust remembrance event. You can view a recording of the event here. The primary activity of the event was watching the short film “But Some Survive“, which follows the life of Esther Latarus, a Polish Holocaust survivor.
Why is it important to remember and study the Holocaust? You might have heard the phrase, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it”, or something similar. Overall, it is important to learn the events, people, and influences of history that we might not make the same mistakes, and that we might improve on the things that were good. The Holocaust is one of those negative events of history that we need to study to ensure we do not repeat it. There were many factors which fell into place to allow the Holocaust to happen. Can you name even one of those factors? Could you recognize it if it were happening in your community today?
By reading, watching, and talking about the Holocaust, you can start to understand how it could happen in the first place, and be a voice of truth in your community when you see similar activities happening today. Survivor stories are an excellent place to start. They create a human connection to history and make it realistic. The Library’s Holocaust Remembrance study guide has a section on survivor stories in written, audio, and video formats.
Next, you might want to read a book or two giving some more context to the Holocaust. “The World Must Know” is an excellent book in the DCTC Library that provides more background information as well as images of people and locations. You might also seek out books on specific lenses of the Holocaust – perhaps the political or governmental environment, global actions and responses, specific actors like Hitler or Goebel, or what was happening in higher education.
Finally, start and encourage conversations about the Holocaust among your family and friends. Perhaps you could ask elderly members of your family or community what they know about the Holocaust, or how people spoke about it when they were children. Ask children if they are learning about the Holocaust in school. You may encounter people who have never studied the Holocaust, and can learn alongside them. You may encounter experts, who will be pleased you are starting to learn and happy to share what they know and think. You might also meet people who don’t believe the Holocaust happened – “Holocaust deniers”, they are often called. They might be misinformed about history, at which point you have an opportunity to share what you have learned. They may also not want to believe such a horrible thing could have happened. This is a good time to gently agree that it was a horrible thing, and while no one wants to believe such ugly things of their fellow human beings, unfortunately that desire doesn’t erase history. Perhaps you could offer to read or watch some survivor stories with them, and be a compassionate friend.
There are additional Holocaust resources available through our Library study guide. Consider spending a little time becoming familiar with a few stories of the Holocaust, so that you can stand up for what is right in your community.
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