By Eraas Haider
72 years ago on this day, the infamous concentration camps in present-day Germany (and around) were liberated; camps that remained subject to unfathomable atrocities by Hitler the Jews resulting in 6 million deaths. Today, the grandchildren and great grandchildren of the victims and survivors come to the same countries for work and leisure. A lot has changed in this region of the world. Same mental liberation is desperately needed in some other parts of the world, in minimum possible time and at permissible cost of loss of lives as high as none.
Though it is proved time and again that the only thing we learned from history is that we do not learn from history. There remain some lessons to be learned from the holocaust. First and foremost is the collective and individual responsibility to stand up to atrocities. Albeit wished by a majority, but closing your eyes to mayhems would not make them go away. In the words of Elie Wiesel, a holocaust-survivor and a renounced activist:
We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
The holocaust happened not only because of a systematic persecution by the government but also because of the silence of the public. Silence perpetuates the matter. Any idea whose foundations rest on stereotyping and prejudice can end up in consternations as mountainous as the holocaust. Holocaust is the last century’s most pronounced reminder for the world to come to terms with the fact that the unexpected is to be expected, anywhere anytime.
Second most important lesson we can learn is that of tolerance. Tolerance not only for people from other belief systems, but also for any other conceivable difference. Though the majority of the targets of the holocaust were Jews, other groups were also subject to the same treatment: people with different sexual orientations, different physical and mental capabilities and/or political affiliations. All these descriptions become yardsticks for such horrible treatments to which, till date, the walls of gas chambers stand testimony.
Helen Keller has beautifully summarized the essence of education in her following words.
“ The highest result of education is tolerance.”
We spend decades of our life acquiring ‘education’ and if after all these years of labor our education does not inculcate seeds of tolerance in the garden of our character, then we better be worried. Any ideology that distinguishes one group from other on the basis of race, color, religion and ethnicity should raise alarm bells as a potential trigger of suppression. Hatred will only beget more hatred. Period.