Learning Some Lessons From The Holocaust


The United Nations has set aside January 27 each year to remember the
Holocaust that consumed an estimated six million Jews during the Second
World War. The Day is officially called the International Day of
Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. 
is a term used to describe the wilful massacre of millions of people
before and during the Second World War in Germany and German-occupied
territories. Many of the victims of the interne cion were Jews but also
included Soviets, Poles (Polish people), homosexuals, the disabled,
political and religious persons. 
The Day is not only meant to mark
events of the mass killings of the victims, it is also a day to remember
when the Soviet Red Army liberated the biggest Nazi concentration and
death camp in Poland on January 27, 1945. 
On this day, prayer
meetings are customarily organised and held globally for the Holocaust
victims and attempts to annihilate the Jews are denounced. Visits and
tributes to victims of inhumane conduct are also paid. 
Holocaust Day goes beyond the remembrance of the unfortunate incidents
that occurred during the Second World War. It is a time to acknowledge
the evil of hate speeches and racial segregation which Adolf Hitler
effectively utilised to plunge the world into a catastrophe. 
who bear the burden of personal experiences of human cruelty ought to
attract the same sympathy as the Holocaust victims wherever they are
found. Everything should be done to eradicate hatred from human
The world will not forget what happened in Europe in the
1930s and 1940s. Therefore, for the voices of the Holocaust victims to
be truly heard, there is a need for future generations to learn about
the catastrophe and for everyone to work towards preventing a similar
happenstance in the world. 
As the victims are remembered, there are
always novel things to learn from the devastating events and that is,
the world must understand that the Holocaust is not mere statistics. It
is real. Every life that was taken had an identity and a name and each
person represents a universe. 
As our sages tell us: “whoever saves a
single life, it is as if he or she has saved an entire universe. Just
as whoever has killed a single person, it is as if they have killed an
entire universe.” The lasting imperative here is we are the guarantors
of each other’s destiny.
Another lesson to be learnt is that
Hitler’s genocide succeeded not only because of the terror but because
of the state-sanctioned ideology of hate. It all began with the
demonising of others. The truth is that the  Holocaust didn’t begin in
the gas chamber, it actually began with words.
Again, the
annihilation exercise was a huge success because of the conspiracy of
silence or indifference among the elites at the time. Is much the same
development not witnessed in our day and time? Don’t we see this happen
in Nigeria again and again? 
For example, the inaction by the
Nigerian government against mass killings in the country only sends a
message that the authorities are on the side of the victimiser, not the
victim. This is a dangerous signal as indifference in the face of evil
is acquiescence with evil itself.
Are we not experiencing an
appalling conspiracy in Africa which led to the Rwandan genocide that
has all the trappings of being repeated in many countries in our
continent and other parts of the world? 
If the 20th century was the
age of heinous acts, it was also the period of impunity. Impunity was
at the heart of the systematic extermination and only few perpetrators
of evil at that time were brought to justice. There should be no sacred
cows nor sanctuary for hate and enemies of mankind. 
It is expedient
to understand that to combat fiendishness, impunity has to be tackled
because it is the symbol of lawlessness. We are in an era of global
impunity where perpetrators of atrocious acts are left unpunished and
not brought to justice.
Also, it is the responsibility of the state
to protect the vulnerable. Hitler’s genocide triumphed because of the
vulnerability of the powerless and the powerlessness of the vulnerable.
He targeted those whose lives were not worth living. Therefore, every
government must seek to empower the powerless and give voice to the
Since the occurrence of the Holocaust, most of the
affected countries have seen lower economic growth and wages ever since.
Consequently, these same areas have always resisted political reforms
even long after the collapse of communism in the defunct Soviet Union. 
More than 70 years after the Holocaust, the horrors of Rwanda and
Darfur in Africa are frightening reminders that preventing future
genocides and mass atrocities remains an enormous challenge. As we learn
more about the risk factors, warning signs, and triggering events that
have led to it in the past, may we also learn ways to prevent it in the
The ongoing genocidal atrocities in the Middle East,
Burundi, and currently South Sudan are ominous signs heavy with
foreboding. Genocide doesn’t just happen overnight, it can develop from
mass atrocities, for example, war crimes and crimes against humanity. 
Given this growing tendency in many countries, there is a need for the
establishment of a Genocide Prevention Task Force to provide practical
policy recommendations to enhance the capacity of governments to respond
to emerging threats of genocide and mass atrocities.
Any failure by
the international community to act in the face of crises, and act
promptly, will often lead to the atrocities escalating until they get to
the threshold of genocide.  The global community must, therefore,
accept its failure each time it is unable to prevent the escalation of
mass monstrosities in different parts of the world.
By remembering
the victims and honouring the courage of the survivors, and those who
assisted and liberated them, we annually renew our resolve to prevent
such barbarity and reject the hateful mentality that allows that. The
memory of the Holocaust is a strong reminder of what can happen when we
cease from seeing our common humanity.
As it is, everyone has to
denounce political and religious ideologies that set people against
themselves. Let us speak out against religious, ethnic and political
sentiments and create a world where dignity is revered, diversity is
celebrated and peace is permanent.
While the normal thing is to
think that it won’t happen in our time, we must never believe that the
worst is still far away. So, the lessons of the Holocaust must be learnt
all the time, not only on the set date.