Six million Jews.
We’ve heard that number so often that it’s become a cliche.
But today, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, we need to take a moment and think about what that number actually represents – and what it means to today’s world.
Two million of the Jews slaughtered by the Nazis were children. Many of these innocent young boys and girls were slung head-first into walls. Others were thrown into pits with sweets and then buried alive.
Jewish women were raped and then shot in the back of the head. Old men, with years of experience and wisdom lined in their faces, were lined up against walls and shot dead.
Those healthy enough to work were forced into slave labor, 16 hours a day or more outside in the elements with no protective clothing and a daily food allowance of less than 200 calories. Most of them were worked to death, as the Nazis intended, but the ones who didn’t succumb eventually were killed as well.
In the first years of the Holocaust, the Nazis lined up their victims along pits and crevices and shot them one-by-one in the backs of their heads. This took a psychological toll on those who did the shooting, though, so the Nazis had to find a way to commit mass murder without doing psychological damage to the murderers.
So they came up with the idea of using an insecticide called Zyklon-B. If it worked on insects, it would work just as well on Jews, right?
So the trains would pull into the death camps with thousands of Jews from all over Europe packed into cattle cars. Upon their arrival, Nazi doctors would “select” Jews capable of working, and the rest were herded naked into “showers,” where no one could see them, and they were “gassed.” Jewish slaves would then be sent in to remove the bodies and dig out gold fillings and any other valuable items hidden by the victims in their bodily cavities to send to the Nazis for their war effort. Neat and efficient mass murder. Out of sight, out of mind. No fuss, no muss, no guilty consciences.
Jewish communities that had existed as far back as the 2nd century C.E. were wiped out. Synagogues in use for over 700 years were blown up. Eighty percent of all Jews in Nazi-controlled territories were murdered just for being Jewish – one-third of the entire world’s Jewish population exterminated.
England knew what was happening but refused to reveal it. Instead, they closed off British Mandate Palestine, the ancestral home of the Jews, to any Jewish immigration. On one occasion, a Panamanian ship en route to Palestine with 700 Jews that had escaped the Nazis was blown up by the Turkish Navy at England’s request.
FDR and Pope Pius XII both also knew what was happening and stayed silent.
The Catholic Church denounced the “euthanizing” of the disabled and the attacks by the Nazi government on dissenting priests, but they never once spoke up for the Jews who were being slaughtered by the millions. Instead, the Vatican helped stir up antisemitic passions by publishing tracts repeating the old libel that “the Jews killed Jesus.”
And the government of Vichy France voluntarily rounded up Jews to be sent to Nazi death camps without even waiting for the Nazis to request that they do so.
If you took all of the adult Jews killed in the Holocaust and lined them up head-to-foot, they would circle the entire equator. If you took just the Jewish children and lined them up, they would stretch across the entire Pacific Ocean from China to California.
And that’s not even counting the additional three million gypsies, homosexuals, Communists, people with mental and physical disabilities and deformities, intellectuals, partisans, Polish Christians, and others who were murdered by the Nazis just for being who they were.
In the years since the Holocaust, government and religious leaders across the world have proclaimed, “Never Again!”
Unfortunately, they were just words.
In the years since the Holocaust, the world community has passively watched numerous further attempts at genocide:
1971 – The Pakistanis killed between 300,000 and 3,000,000 Bangladeshis.
1975-79 – The Khmer Rouge murdered between one and three million people in Cambodia.
1986-89 – Saddam Hussein butchered between 50,000 and 200,000 Kurdish Iraqis.
1992-95 – The Serbs engaged in “ethnic cleansing” of between 8,000 and 40,000 Croats and Bosnians Muslims.
1994 – The Hutus in Rwanda slaughtered between 500,000 and 1,000,000 Tutsis – 70% of the entire Tutsi population.
Today – ISIS has murdered thousands of Yazidis in Northern Iraq and Syria as well as Christians throughout areas they control, and these atrocities continue
Today – “Enlightened” western countries like Iceland, applying some of the same eugenics “theories” embraced by the Nazis, have murdered millions of unborn babies with Down syndrome with a goal of eradicating people with Down syndrome from the human race altogether.
All of these attempted genocides occurred and continue to occur while the world who vowed “Never Again” once again stands watching.
So, did we really learn anything from the Holocaust?
Author: Ken Falkenstein
Ken Falkenstein is the Managing Editor of Committed Conservative and brings a wealth of experience and expertise in public affairs to the job. Ken served in the U.S. Army in the last years of the Cold War as a Russian linguist for military intelligence and the NSA. After leaving the Army, he earned his degree in Secondary Education from Old Dominion University, where he also wrote a popular column in the student newspaper.
Upon graduation, Ken worked as a Legislative Aide to two Republican members of the Virginia House of Delegates. Ken also served as Corresponding Secretary of the Young Republican Federation of Virginia, managed several successful political campaigns, and managed governmental affairs operations for a local Realtor association.
In 1995, Ken moved to Washington, DC to serve as a Legislative Assistant to Sen. John Warner (R-VA). While working for Sen. Warner, Ken attended law school at night, earning his J.D. with honors from the George Mason University School of Law (n/k/a The Antonin Scalia Law School). Since that time, Ken has practiced as a civil litigation attorney, including serving for three years as an Associate City Attorney for the City of Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Ken previously was a contributor to the highly-regarded political blog Bearing Drift and was a weekly co-host of The Steve Batton Radio Program. In 2016, Ken ran unsuccessfully for the Virginia Beach School Board. Ken is also a former President of the Down Syndrome Association of Hampton Roads.
Ken now lives outside of Denver, Colorado with his wife, Kim, and three sons, Adam, Dylan, and Joshua, who has Down syndrome. Ken’s writing is motivated and informed primarily by his concern for his kids’ future.