Lessons from Auschwitz
If we forget, we are guilty. If we forget, we are accomplices.
Of the books I have read this year, Night by Elie Wiesel is one book which will stay with me forever. To label it only as a book about Holocaust would be a mistake, for it is much more than that. There is a reason why this is a course book in many schools, because past is the greatest teacher and to forget the atrocities is the greatest disrespect to the dead.
Aristotle said that there are 3 ways of persuading people- through ethos, logos and pathos
Ethos .i.e using ethics, character and credibility to persuade.
Logos- using logic and reasoning to persuade
Pathos- using emotions and passion to persuade
Hitler used pathos to start the greatest disaster mankind had ever witnessed. The great depression in 1933 gave him the perfect opportunity to give people someone to blame for their miseries. Delivering passionate speeches stirring people’s emotions, he mastered the art of propaganda. The propaganda sought to elicit loyalty and a fake patriotism, urging people to be the defenders of their pure race!
Now to make anyone believe in this outlandish idea, logic has to be killed first. This period witnessed the mass banning, censorship and burning of books. Out went the books on Science, Psychology and anything that could help people think logically. Wiping out and rewriting any past events that might be against the Nazi movement. Universities were under pressure (Einstein renounced his German citizenship and moved to the U.S.)
There was systematic character assassination of Jews through carefully created films and media which portrayed Jews as sinister money-minting cultural parasites, slowly dehumanizing them. With newspapers and many big companies sold out to the Nazis, Hitler promoted national pride in the allegiance to Swastika.
Does any of this sound familiar to you?
Today, like the saints sent by Gods, people always wonder- how can something like the Holocaust ever take place? The brutal killing of millions of people in the name of race, and the world remained silent! How could that be? Surely this could not happen in today’s day and age!
Are you sure? Think again.
The countries watched in silence until the war some way or the other affected them, or they saw some benefit of acting for or against it. Jews were shocked to see this inaction, much like we would be today..for those were modern times too, times not very different from today.
In the words of Elie Wiesel
“How naïve we were, that the world did know and remained silent. And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, the place must- at that moment — become the center of universe.”
Don’t be silent.
We are a generation dumbed down by TikToks and Instagram, succumbed to the diversion techniques by companies, government and internet. We are all sufferers of ADHD. We cannot focus and research through topics. We need news in smaller easily consumable bits. And that is exactly what we are fed - taking us in any direction the propaganda and fake news wants to take us.
There is so much injustice and suffering in the world — many voices don’t even reach us. We are just happy in our bubbles, failing to seek the truth, failing to raise our voices where necessary. Seek! Seek for news which matters, which is less flashy and facts which are not covered up. Read. Reach out for lesser known published papers for the truth hides somewhere in there, not in your first 2 pages of Google Search. Scan every word to uncover some detail wedged between one letter and the next. Analyse. And even that would be far from reality, a highly skewed version, but atleast it’s a step in the right direction and is the only way of knowing.
Raise your voice. Tomorrow this could be you.
It is important to take sides, to ask questions, to stand corrected, but never be neutral. Now we all know people ( and if you don’t, then you are that person) who sit behind their screens, on Twitter or comments section and keep emitting their toxicity for things which is none of their business. Fools are always too sure, have too much time and are opinionated about everything. We need to train ourselves to speak up when it matters and for what matters the most.
There is a difference between being opinionated, and understanding the nuances and subtleties of truth. It is never black or white.
There is so much of injustice and suffering crying out for our attention:
India is going backwards with skewed-idea-of-Hinduism being equated to patriotism, Whatsapp forwards with tidbits on our great culture, just perfectly created to strike the chord with people who never read a book let alone the Vedic scriptures. And uncles and aunties ready to consume it and forward it to their friends and family groups. The systematic labeling of inter-religious marriages as love Jihad. Oh you are the defenders of your race and culture, don’t let it become impure! Sounds familiar?
The peaceful farmers’ protests in India which does not find a voice in the media owned by the Indian government. Or the generations of communities which still do not have the basic rights and dignity that they deserve because of their caste. Does any of this remind you of the propaganda measures used by Hitler? Being silent favours the oppressor, never the oppressed.
These cases of Humanitarian crisis is not unique to India, it is omnipresent- the suffering of African Americans, the plight of Syrians desperately trying to be heard while the countries play politics and the incompetent United Nations just watches on as there is one humanitarian crisis after another. Yemen, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Rohingya refugee crisis, the rise in antisemitism in the US and Europe, the list is endless. The crises which the Whatsapp uncles and aunties would never be aware of. And why would they be? It’s not glamorous. It requires attention in a world of 1-minute Reels. That’s what our attention span has been reduced to.
There were a lot of people feeling very sorry about the women in Afghanistan (ironically the male chauvinistic, patriarcal society’s flagbearers in India were also very distressed). Lot of heart-breaking pictures shared on social media. To what end? People forget.
The least one could do is to seek the truth. Read. Raise your voice and Never forget. To forget, is to sin.
- German newspapers printed cartoons that used antisemitic caricatures to depict Jews.- Reminds me of the many supposedly harmless funny videos of Rahul Gandhi, churned out by BJP IT Cell, very skillfully edited at the right moments to make him appear like a total Pappu (a fool).
- Many big companies collaborated with the Nazis and made money out of people’s sufferings. Brands which exist even today. Click here to read the details of just a few- Today it is the big tech giants one needs to be wary of. Something which everyone talks about but is hopelessly addicted to. Coincidence? I think Not.
- When Nazis came into power in 1933, Jewish people made up less than 1% of the German population. (Minorities always are the most vulnerable)
- Although “Nazi” is a short for ‘National Socialist German Worker’s Party’, the Nazis werent actually socialist or supportive of workers. They picked up words that they believed would get Germans to support them- much like what political parties still do today.
Am I Leftist or do I support Right wing? Truth is fluid and beyond these insignificant labelling. I am just a person asking questions and seeking the truth.