Column - Genocidal killers benefitNever forget! But, of course we do – again and again. Since the Holocaust (“Never forget!”), in which an estimated six million Jews were systematically put to death, untold more millions of human beings have been slaughtered time and again.
By: Dennis Dalman, Alexandria Echo Press
But, of course we do – again and again.
Since the Holocaust (“Never forget!”), in which an estimated six million Jews were systematically put to death, untold more millions of human beings have been slaughtered time and again. Humankind not only forgets but seems intent on repeating the horrors of the past.
What is just as despicable as this constant forgetting is the insistence by some fools that the Holocaust never happened. Instead of acknowledging the hideous crimes of history, these shameless revisionists (some of them posing as “scholars”) want to erase historical facts, bury the evidence and muffle the screams.
To this day, Turkey will not admit it perpetrated genocide against 1.5 million Armenians from 1915-1923. Japan still refuses to acknowledge the vicious rampages of its troops in Nanking, China in 1937 when 300,000 of the city’s residents (men, women and children) were shot, beheaded, raped, drowned, hanged, disemboweled, buried alive and burned alive. Japan and Turkey are only two examples of the denial of genocidal butchery.
This refusal to accept responsibility is never-ending, country after country.
“It didn’t happen.” That’s the biggest cop-out line of all time.
How can we “never forget,” how can we “always remember” when so many ostriches, heads in sand, come up for air to squawk, “It didn’t happen, didn’t happen.” This willful “amnesia,” in and of itself, fuels genocide because such enabling behavior induces forgetfulness and helps let perpetrators off the hook.
One of my personal heroes is Larry Tillemans of St. Joseph, Minnesota. He was a secretary who transcribed testimony from Nazis during the war-crimes trials in Nuremburg, Germany. He knows firsthand, indelibly, the genocide that occurred in Germany. He cannot forget what he saw and heard, and he wants others – especially younger people – to know what happened and not to forget it. The fact that some so-called “scholars” deny the Holocaust disgusts Tillemans to the bottom of his very soul. That is why, even now in his early 90s, he continues to give talks to any group that will listen. His message? The Holocaust happened. Learn what happened and how it happened and then don’t you forget it!
The trouble is, so many eyewitnesses to the genocidal barbarity during World War II are now dead and gone. Too many young people think the Holocaust was so long ago, why should the world keep dwelling on it? Many do not know (or they forget about) the variations of Holocaust that have happened all through the 20th century and into this one: Pol Pot’s bloodbath in Cambodia, Chinese persecutions and killings of people in Tibet, Idi Amin’s homicidal fury in Uganda, the vicious ethnic rapes and killings in Serbia-Bosnia-Croatia, the mutual slaughters between Hutus and Tutsis in Uganda, the current mass murders in Darfur. The long, long list of genocide goes on and on, as the world keeps forgetting.
That is what most genocidal killers depend upon – human beings’ penchant for forgetting the “bad.” After their bloody crimes, tyrants often go unpunished, living in hiding or in exile and sometimes in plain view among populations that forget – or too easily forgive. Thank goodness for the War-Crimes Tribunal in the Hague, Netherlands where justice, now and then, is still meted out to the savage criminals who led their all-too-willing people to commit so much violence against innocent people.
They say those who do not learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it. But we cannot learn anything if we remain in a state of willful amnesia. Of course, we cannot dwell on those horrors daily forever. But at the very least, we can acknowledge with dread and sorrow they did, in fact, happen.
A good way to “remember” is to Google “Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.”
Dennis Dalman, a former reporter for the Echo Press, is a regular contributing columnist to the Opinion page. He is currently the editor of the St. Joseph Newsleader. He can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.