Friday, March 11, 2011

A Book That You'll Never Forget

"From a Name to a Number" is a book that you'll never forget. It is the story of a Jewish teenager who received his education in five concentration camps. After he was liberated, he found himself without a home, country, or immediate family. Most of "From a Name to a Number" is the story of where he went and how he lived after his liberation.

Alters story is tragic and inspirational. He refuses to hate the German people for the violence and cruelty that the Nazis inflicted on him and his family. If Alter can refuse to hate, we have no excuse.

The immensity and deliberate, industrialized cruelty of the Holocaust are difficult to comprehend. We know it happened because the Nazis kept meticulous records. These death camp balance sheets are evidence of an inhuman cruelty that should never be allowed to happen again.

Despite the historical evidence (films, mass graves, pictures, balance sheets, and historical sites), holocaust deniers tell others that it didn't happen. They do this to justify their own racist beliefs or because they despise the attention that society gives to victims. As the Holocaust's survivors succumb to old age, the number of Holocaust deniers is increasing.

An increasing number of media personalities will routinely blame victims or refer to minorities as racists or Nazis. They do this because they perceive victimhood as power, which they crave. If we allow hate mongers to call themselves victims, we do a disservice to past, present, and future victims of violence.

Repeated use of the word "Nazi" on political television shows is a deliberate attempt to change its meaning. If we allow this word to be watered down until it is becomes slang for "nationalization" or "jerk", the Holocaust will be harder for future generations to understand.

Survivors of genocides such as the Holocaust or the Khmer Rouge retell their stories even though it hurts them to do so. They show us their physical and emotional scars to teach us that hatred and genocide can happen anywhere.