Thursday, November 1, 2007

Studying Genocide

Pacific Lutheran University has received an endowment for a Holocaust Studies chair.  I've never heard of such a thing, but it makes sense.  I've researched only one of the concentration camps, KZ Mauthausen, and have discovered that what I knew about the holocaust before undertaking the research was a mere drop in the ocean.  I learned enough to know that I knew very little. 

So much of what I knew about the holocaust was based on films and television, and the odd documentary or two that I had glimpsed.  The truth of the horror was far more involved, planned, and complex than I had imagined.  The genocide of the European Jews was an industry that employed tens of thousands of people - only a fraction of whom were ever brought to justice. 

We must find a way to understand how it happened.  To simply say it was the abberant result of a madman's fiendish plan is to completely discount the possibility that it was the result of a fundamental shift in the conscious, shared perception of reality in the minds of millions.  And that it was facilitated by the poison of propaganda.

We look back at the militarized politics of Germany and say that it could never happen here.  But it may be happening right now!  In 60 years, how will the world look back on what we're doing, or allowing to be done, by our leaders?

Soon all who had direct personal experiences during the holocaust will pass away.  We must find a way to preserve their stories.

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