Lessons of the Holocaust

The Holocaust will only drift farther away from present day, yet the morals gained from it will only become more firmly etched into the minds and hearts of each one of us as the points never cease to apply.

May 19, 2014 22:56
4 minute read.
auschwitz sign

The sign "Arbeit macht frei" at the main gate to the Auschwitz concentration camp.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The Holocaust. From the time we, as Jews, were young, this is one of the most spoken about events of our past. Grade school students are taught snippets of this particular topic for years, only learning the complete graphic details once reaching a certain age and maturity level. It isn’t a happy part of a rich and colorful history that has been peppered with both good and bad, yet it has been drilled into us that the Holocaust must never be forgotten.

One may wish to put aside a tragedy in order to heal from it, even if that means also ignoring all the lessons that often are a result of a horrific ordeal. However, from the years directly following the Holocaust to the present day, that has never been the Jewish way. The Holocaust affected so, so many people, and came out of practically nowhere. Since then, it has served as a constant reminder that even in modern times, anything can happen. Nevertheless, as bad as something may seem, God is always and will always remain with us through it all.

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Our society is often viewed as a self-centered one. Rather than a criticism, it has begun to be viewed as a fact. It is easy to forget how many people are interwoven and necessary parts of one’s everyday life.

The Holocaust functioned as an awakening, even 75 years ago, to how much we truly depend on one another.

Today, stories of kindhearted individuals who risked their lives to aid someone else are still being brought forth. So, too, the trials and cruelties performed by the soldiers who were part of this genocide are also still discussed. Hearing about the Holocaust, remembering it, and making a distinct effort to apply the lessons learned from it have roused the world to the fact that no matter how far technology is improved upon, human intervention is something both irreplaceable and crucial to a humane existence.

Furthermore, the Holocaust has proven to the world that the unexpected is to be expected. This disaster took place in this century. This isn’t something to be thought of as a simple piece of history written about in the textbooks, only to be forgotten about once given a test. No, this is an incident the people who actually experienced it are still able to testify about. Thinking an occurrence as ghastly as this one cannot ever recur is simply incorrect. If the world were to forget the Holocaust, we would all be resigning ourselves to an inevitably recurrence of this mass destruction. The world needed to see firsthand how terrible people can be, even in modern times, when a system or group is left unchecked.

After the Holocaust, people were given the awareness to bring forth years later what has ultimately become a significant reminder that we will forever need to make active preemptive measures of prevention to ensure nothing similar to the Holocaust ever is duplicated.

Lastly, albeit at times a controversial concept the world was taught the power of religion and God through the Holocaust. Freshly opening up the age-old question of “how can God allow bad things to happen to good people?” and introducing the newer one that wondered how, in particular, the Holocaust could have been permitted by God, the Holocaust caused multitudes of people to reexamine their faith.

While it is true that this has been a sore point to many ever since the 1940s, it is also true that the Holocaust operated at a time when many faiths were strengthened.

After all, for all the millions of people brutally slaughtered at the hands of the Nazis, there were a significant number of people that overcame unimaginable odds and survived.

Not only that, but the rebuilding of all the lives, Jewish and gentile alike, has produced swarms of families intent on keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive.

Today, in a world where people are frequently caught up in situations that leave them despondent after bearing witness to the various disasters that have taken place, the only thing that has remained a consistent solace is religion. It is simple to turn away from God when angry, but the Holocaust imparted to the modern-day world the lesson that as difficult as things may be, God will always be by one’s side to do as is needed for an individual.

The world has changed dramatically in the 75 years since the Holocaust. Nonetheless, the messages that have been sent out since then have become timeless.

Lessons that involved society, shock, and faith have rocked the world to its core.

The Holocaust will only drift farther away from present day, yet the morals gained from it will only become more firmly etched into the minds and hearts of each one of us as the points never cease to apply.

The author is 15 years old, lives in West Hempstead, New York, and is a 9th grader attending the Hebrew Academy of Nassau County high school (HANC).

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