“Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed....Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.” ― Elie Wiesel, Night.
Today, we mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, one of the most brutal concentration camps to have ever been created. We mark International Holocaust Memorial Day, remembering over six million Jewish people who exterminated during World War II.
They were exterminated because they were Jewish. The process in which Nazis and their collaborators did this was to mark them with a Star of David made from a yellow cloth, forcing them to saw it on their sleeves so they can be identified. Their properties were confiscated, including their bank accounts, homes, paintings, and they were sent to various concentration camps like those in Poland - Auschwitz-Birkenau, Belzec, Chelmno, Treblinka and many more all over Europe. Jewish people were humiliated, forced to hard labor, tortured, beaten, and eventually killed. But they were killed in such brutal ways that one cannot fathom that such evil could exist.
Inside the camps, German SS officers, some of whom were doctors, used Jewish people in particular women to run laboratory tests on. For instance, testing x-ray machines at the highest level to sterilize, or insert chemicals into women’s wombs to glue them shut. Bayer, then part of IG Farben, had asked for 150 Jewish women to be transferred to them for testing of anesthetic. They did not receive results in their tests because the women died during this tortures process. The most famous of those physicians and SS Officers is Josef Mengele “Angel of Death” whose interest was in running tests on twins, dwarfs, and those with hereditary diseases. He would test everything from blood to sugar level in twins, order for transfusions between children, and he would then have them killed to run tests on their remains. Another doctor and an SS officer, Kurt Heissmeyer, would have children sent to him for testing. He used those children to test a cure for tuberculosis by injecting them with tuberculosis bacilli. In 1945, he ordered all children killed to conceal the details of the project.
The brutality against the Jewish people knew no end. But on January 27th, 1945, Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated by the Red Army, and the world said, “Never Again.” Yet, that repeatedly became once again in Bosnia, Rwanda, against Rohingya, and Yazidis. The international community has not learned, and it will not learn for as long as it sits back and allows those genocides to continue.
Holocaust is the definition of genocide; it is the extermination of one particular group of people, in this case, the Jews. If we are to judge the crimes against humanity committed in conflicts around the world, we must use Holocaust as an example, and when we do countries like Bosnia and Rwanda demonstrate that genocide has also taken place in the most recent times. It showed that Yazidis and Rohingya were targeted because of their ethnicities. Yet, the international community that should be most capable of putting politics aside and ending genocides fails to register that. It fails to stop genocide.
We only have to go to Yad Vashem, to Auschwitz, Srebrenica, to witness the evil of humanity, and we don’t have to wonder whether such evil exists, because those places are proof that it does.