Holocaust Remembrance Day: Time to turn a new leaf

January 27 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorating the date when Soviet troops liberated the largest Nazi concentration camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau, in 1945 and remembering the Holocaust, in which millions of prisoners of war, homosexuals, disabled persons, Roma and Sinti gypsies and Jews were murdered.

Holocaust... Holókaustos in Greek, meaning "whole" "burnt"; HaShoah in Hebrew, meaning "catastrophe", a dark chapter in the history of humankind, when once again, as happened so many times before and so many times after, men and women dug deep into the barrel of cruelty to degrade, demoralize and play out power games over the defenceless. And once again the victims and their descendants swim in a sea of hatred, revenge which while understandable, is counter-productive.

While the Holocaust is for many synonymous with the Jews, it was not only the Jews that suffered in the Holocaust, and indeed more non-Jews were murdered in Nazi concentration camps (not only by Germans either) than Jewish citizens. Roma and Sinti gypsies were murdered in their millions, horrific medical experiments were carried out upon gypsy children; homosexuals, bisexuals and crossdressers were rounded up in their hundreds of thousands and forced to perform backbreaking work details.

Up to eleven million prisoners of war were exterminated, all of these groups residing alongside the Jews in those horrific camps. The Holocaust deniers are doing no favours to any and all of these groups, people whose lives were taken away because they did not fit into the Great Aryan Dream, which was in fact a retrograde, perverse, anachronistic and warped ideal more befitting a Wagner opera than the real world.

Yet these poor souls, forced to live and work in deplorable conditions, fighting disease, struggling to survive, were but the victims of one of Humankind's many Holocausts. Countless millions of people died, slaughtered by their peers, in the name of God, in the name of a flag, an ideal, a cause, a chimera, a caprice.

The African Holocaust was Slavery, affecting up to 70 million people according to some scholars; the Soviet Union lost 26 million souls stopping Hitler's hordes. Indeed in the equation which constitutes Mankind, massacres and murder are a constant factor.

So let us remember this January 27 all the victims of all the Holocausts; let the survivors or their descendants show magnanimity over hatred and not use the Holocausts to justify their own agendas, in many cases, like any common criminal, repeating the behavioural cycle.

The Holocausts do not belong to the past; they happen time and time again. Just last year powerful nations sponsored a vicious and cruel attack against Libya, supporting terrorist forces which committed outrages against human rights, the same outrages being perpetrated by Israelis against Palestinians each and every day.

So, if we are going to respect the victims of the Holocausts of yesteryear, isn't it time everyone, and I mean every member of the international community, started behaving in a manner more befitting of the expectations Humankind had for the Third Millennium?

When Humankind learns that tears taste of salt, whoever sheds them, perhaps the tears of the slaves which formed our seas will take their rightful place alongside those of others who took material advantage of their collective plight. Then maybe the African Holocaust, and others, will all be viewed with the same degree of respect.

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey



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Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey