What lessons must be learned from the Holocaust?What lessons must be learned from the Holocaust?

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litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. Even though something is happening to people we don't care about, in another part of the world, we cannot fail to intervene. It is our moral duty to stop genocide wherever we see it. I wish we had learned that lesson.
mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I would argue that we need to be aware that the willingness to do such things is in every culture and in every person somewhere.  I find it hard to blame the Germans exclusively when you look at our history in the US of carrying out similar holocausts, perhaps you remember the American Indians and our treatment of them, maybe you know a little bit about our behavior in the Phlillipines, or you could even think carefully about the way we treated Japanese Americans during WWII.  Thankfully we did not try to exterminate them, but we forced them into horrible conditions, in fact treating German POW's far better than American citizens in this case.

So perhaps instead of looking to teach other cultures what is right, we should simply work to make it impossible for us to discriminate against people because of an arbitrary distinction like their race or religion.

A very cogent point.  We may add the Native Americans to this list, also.  This being said, there seems to be the conclusion that, as a Russian proverb goes, "Man is a wolf to man."

There is something in the nature of humankind, it would seem, to desire to dominate. The extermination of the Jews in Germany was an attempt to rid the country of many doctors, lawyers, merchants, money lenders, etc. who had taken jobs from native Germans, and who were profiting greatly.  The Jews became the scapegoat for the ills of Germany--at least, the propaganda was slanted this way.  At any rate, many a German bought into this belief.

kapokkid's profile pic

kapokkid | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I would argue that we need to be aware that the willingness to do such things is in every culture and in every person somewhere.  I find it hard to blame the Germans exclusively when you look at our history in the US of carrying out similar holocausts, perhaps you remember the American Indians and our treatment of them, maybe you know a little bit about our behavior in the Phlillipines, or you could even think carefully about the way we treated Japanese Americans during WWII.  Thankfully we did not try to exterminate them, but we forced them into horrible conditions, in fact treating German POW's far better than American citizens in this case.

So perhaps instead of looking to teach other cultures what is right, we should simply work to make it impossible for us to discriminate against people because of an arbitrary distinction like their race or religion.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

If we want to prevent future genocides (and we don't seem to be doing a very good job of that) then the main lesson that we must learn from the Holocaust is that we have to teach people to tolerate one another even if they are from different religions or ethnic groups or whatever.

The only really feasible way to have prevented the Holocaust was to prevent the German people from wanting to commit this atrocity.  The only way to make them not want to do it would be to make their culture feel that intolerance was unacceptable.  We are lucky to have built such a culture in the United States.  But to prevent future genocides, we have to help (somehow) people to not be intolerant.  I think that this is the major lesson of the Holocaust.

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