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Holocaust Remembrance Day This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

By , Sumter, SC
If I had been born 85 years ago, I might have been a Holocaust victim. I might have been the child reaching for my mother as I was forced into a gas chamber. I might have been the sad face in a photo in the pages of a history book, wiped from existence, dwelling only in the memories of surviving family members. Because of my religion – I am one of ­Jehovah's Witnesses – I might have been, but fortunately, I was not. It is up to each of us to remember the atrocities committed during the Holocaust and, through education, erase such evil and hatred from the world today.

The perpetrators of the Holocaust did not just persecute Jehovah's Witnesses. Instead, Hitler and his followers took the lives of Jews, the handicapped, gypsies, homosexuals, and others. It did not matter if you were a father, a mother, a son, or a daughter, the Nazis only cared if you were, or more importantly were not, of the Aryan race. People were punished, tortured, and killed because of their appearance, ­actions, or beliefs.

Dr. Gordon Zahn of the University of Massachusetts defined the Nazi victims as three types: “(1) those who suffered for what they were; (2) those who suffered for what they did; (3) and those who suffered for what they refused to do.” They were stripped of their dignity and essentially demoralized. Millions endured heinous torture for years while others turned deaf ears to their cries of anguish.

Has anything really changed? Even today, with the genocides in Rwanda and Darfur, we feel compassion in our hearts but doing little to ease their suffering. ­Instead of speaking up and doing something, we look the other way. By not taking action we are as guilty as those who deliver the death blows. By remaining silent, we allow the blood of innocent men and women to stain our hands and malicious evil to continue.

No longer can we remain a nation of ignorance. It is up to each of us to carry the torch of remembrance, for that is the key to never allowing something like the Holocaust to happen again. The survivors of the Holocaust have almost all died now, but their words can live on. There are hundreds of thousands of articles, books, and memoirs written by these survivors. If we let their stories go unread, we allow the victims to be forgotten.

Today, in schools, the Holocaust is covered briefly. Many students have never been to a Holocaust Remembrance Museum or read a book about the Holocaust. It is vital that we, the next generation, take the time to open our minds and hearts to the plight of the victims. By reading about concentration camps and broken families, and comprehending the horror of watching the extermination of loved ones, we will better remember the Holocaust. By reading personal accounts of those who fought to stay alive, we guarantee that a Holocaust could never happen again.

To forget is to the let the deeds of the evil perpetrators go unpunished, and we must never let that happen. Ultimately, we students must make it our duty to educate ourselves about the Holocaust. We owe it not only to those who suffered, but also to those who suffer persecution and discrimination today, by refusing to remain silent in the face of evil. We must display the healing power of love and fight against the evils in the world; only when we show and practice love will evil and hatred begin to disappear.

Fighting against evil goes much deeper than saying you are against genocide. You oppose all forms of prejudice and discrimination. Being against prejudice and discrimination means realizing that listening to an ethnic joke without disapproving is wrong. It means never teasing someone because of their ethnicity or religion. When we hear racial slurs, sometimes just letting our friends know we do not approve is all it takes to fight discrimination.

Never should we say we are too young to carry the torch of remembrance! At 22, Sophie Scholl, along with her brother Hans, was executed for speaking out against the Nazis. Aware of the horrors carried out by Hitler's regime, they found their voice in the face of evil and proved to the world that no one is too young to speak up.

But how can young people speak up if they are not taught? We cannot allow children to remain ignorant of the Holocaust. They must be educated; with the help of books, movies, and music, they must hear the stories of the survivors and learn the lesson of hope. With images of the Holocaust in their minds, they must advocate for a world without prejudice and never back down from the fight against oppression and discrimination.

When we allow hatred to consume us, we invite evil into our hearts. Instead of shrinking back, we should want to do something, anything, to rid the world of oppression. During the Holocaust, a generation of authors, poets, artists, and teachers was lost. Their voices were silenced, but our voices and their stories remain.

One voice can always make a difference, and by making sure the voices of the Holocaust victims never die, we make a difference. By educating ourselves and all children about the horrors of genocide, we educate the world. And by using our voices to ­educate the world, the torch of remembrance will ­forever be kept alive.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 10 comments. Post your own now!

A peronese said...
May 6 at 2:22 pm
Good job, it was very effective. I am very moved.
Rosstipher said...
Jan. 3, 2013 at 2:29 pm
I agree.  We need to keep the memories of the Holocaust victims alive. The world needs to be better but it is never going to be perfect.
TrollArchCEO said...
Jan. 3, 2013 at 2:23 pm
This really hit home for me, my grandfather was a soldier that went over to help with the clean up after it was over, really hit home.
WarriorGirl17 said...
Jan. 11, 2012 at 7:52 pm
This article really touched something inside of me when I read it. Two summers ago, I remember going to a Holocaust museum in Washington, D.C. It had been really quiet there, and everybody seemed somber and respectful of the many lives that were lost. That was when I really was impacted by what happened during the Holocaust because I had only ever learned about it in school. I agree with this article, and I believe that there should be a rememberance day for this tragic event in our history.... (more »)
ThunderBOLT12 said...
Jan. 11, 2012 at 7:26 am
We need to learn about American history in American schools. And this was a part of American history.
purpleyobes said...
Jan. 11, 2012 at 7:20 am
This article really opens up the world of the holocaust to so many people that have never heard of it before. The terrible things that Hitler did to those people is getting lost in the generations and it isn't something that should be forgoten.
surya1v said...
Jan. 11, 2012 at 7:09 am
You put a lot of good thought into this article. I agree that schools should teach students more about the holocaust
Sunshine15 said...
Dec. 16, 2011 at 12:36 am
Amazing article!! And you're right-- for anyone who's ever seen the Wave, the movie shows you how easily another Holocast could occur... we should be educated a lot more about the Holocaust
Genya This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 19, 2011 at 1:17 pm

It wasn't just the Holocaust though.

What about the Turkish genocide, before the Holocaust? What about the Crusades? We are ignorant of those events too. All genocides should be known and studied, to prevent them from ever occuring again (although it's inevitable that they will repeat, unfortunately).

Your article is true and we should take those words to heart.

SecretNonConformist said...
May 3, 2011 at 8:14 pm
Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! JUST what I needed to hear in a world where kids care more about their high scores in video games than those who died because of who they were born. I'm so glad I read this article today. It gave me hope. Hope that we, the young people, can make the world a better place. All we have to do is get out there, and try.
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