If you have never visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., you have not seen first-hand how prejudice, discrimination and brainwashing can escalate into something horrific and evil.
Once you are inside, it is a somber mood, as the crowds make their way through the authentic film footage, artifacts, photographs and documents that mirror what life was like in pre-war Europe. The Nazi party under Adolph Hitler moved toward the “Final Solution” and life after the Holocaust. This is not for the faint-hearted. You can spend two to three hours in this self-guided exhibition. No one speaks; it is recommended for visitors 11 years of age and older.
In the eastern European regions, millions of Poles -Jews and Catholics alike - were murdered by the Secret Service and police personnel in the field or in killing centers such as Auschwitz-Birkenau and Treblinka. They were considered inferior "races." It is estimated that Jewish fatalities during the Holocaust is usually given as between 5.1 and 6 million victims.
It is estimated that between 5 and 5.5 million Polish civilians, including 3 million Polish Jews, died or were killed under Nazi occupation. Poland lost one-fifth of its population: three million of the dead were Polish Christians, predominantly Catholic, and the rest were Polish Jews.
Many people were killed trying to hide or help people escape concentration camps and executions. Why did it happen? The Holocaust was the state-sponsored systematic persecution and annihilation of European Jewry by Nazi Germany and its collaborators between 1933 and 1945. Jews were the primary victims -- six million were murdered; Roma and Sinti (Gypsies), people with mental and physical disabilities, and Poles were also targeted for destruction or decimation for racial, ethnic, or national reasons. Millions more, including homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, Soviet prisoners of war, and political dissidents, also suffered grievous oppression and death under Nazi Germany. Hitler wrote in a newspaper everyday demeaning this group of people - and turned others against them.
Does this boggle your mind as it does mine? All these people executed because of who they were and what they believed in? So how does peace start with You and Me?
You can see above what happens when a people decide that they are going to annihilate people that don't think, live, believe or act like they do. They were people, with families, with normal lives going about the business of making a living and loving and caring for their families. And because of discrimination, profiling, intolerance, hatred and persecution, innocent people like you and me were executed. It can happen with a government that tries to think, guide and change how you think or believe into how they want you to be for their end purposes.
I don't know the intricacies of what and how these seeds of discontent against others first materialized into what they did. Perhaps because people who were different from those in charge behaved differently, believed differently, prayed differently and/or acted differently? Or perhaps the end product was the emergence of a possible super race and any abnormalities or contrary thought processes had to be exterminated.
We can't ever let his happen again. Is not our world leaning this way?
Is not today's world filled with people who are all very different; they behave differently, believe differently and act differently from how we do? Aren't our all our countries a matrix of different countries, languages, religions, customs, lifestyles, and even countenances different from one another?
It would be easy to point out the differences, make fun of the language or customs and decry their religion and lifestyles. It could be just as easy to accept and respect people for who they are and learn from their diversity of ideas and values. Where did respect go?
We are all different from different worlds and walks of life, but there is one sameness we all have. We are all created by God and made in His likeness. There is no discrimination in His eyes; He loves each and every one of us the same. We are all equal - all races, all creeds, all people, men and women.
Some governments try to use their peoples' differences to divide them so it is easier to brainwash them into a pattern for their own greed and power. It has happened before and will happen again unless we don't allow it. Countries who vote their leaders in can make the difference - good or bad.
Peace can start with each person by treating everyone as your equal. There are no classes, castes, or standards of living in God's eyes. We should all strive to be fair to others, make peace and not combative statements, and treat others as you want to be treated. And pray that we can and will move forward and not backwards. It is said that schools want to take the Holocaust out of our history books.....we need this reminder of what happened so we won't let it happen again.
Marie Coppola © Revised July 2020©