“The man dies in him who sees the truth but refuses to speak It.” so goes the famous quote from Wole Soyinka. This year marks seventy years since the Holocaust, an event that today is a stain on the conscience of not only Germany, where it all started from, but the whole of Europe. From 1939 to 1945, Nazi Germany orchestrated the systematic murder of six million Jews, men, women, children, and old people. No one was spared in the largest act of genocide against one singular group in recorded history. But usually Holocaust historians often make it seem about Jews alone, the other five million, Gypsies, Roma, Physically and mentally handicapped persons and homosexuals who were declared as unfit to live and killed in the most gruesome manner possible. It was the worst example of man’s inhumanity to man, a bloody reminder of how much evil envy and ignorance can wreak.
But the interesting about the Holocaust is not the fact that Nazi Germany carried it out, it is the fact that, Germany’s academia, which was supposed to be the voice of reason, tacitly supported the government. The Roman Catholic Church, because of petty jealousy kept silent as Jews were massacred in Germany, Italy, Poland, Russia, France and indeed most of the countries that now constitute the Euro zone. It is a stain on the collective consciences of Europe and European Christians. The accomplices of the Nazis did not carry guns, they did not build the concentration camps, but they kept silent. The German and the Roman Catholic bishops did not preach anti Semitism, yet they blessed the Third Reich soldiers as they went to war. In many ways they are guilty of murder as the people that did the actual gassing, because they saw the truth and refused to say it.
Seventy years on, the world is still struggling with the very problems that stated the Holocaust. What looked like an attack on a French newspaper, is starting to generate a wave of anti Semitism, which one would have thought Europe has finally succeeded in expiating from its psyche. Many countries of the world are still putting out aggressive measures against homosexuality, religion is still a bone of contention in many countries across the world, and we are in danger of being dragged back to that dark period of history. If there is anything we have learnt, it is that why we condemn Hitler and the generals of the Third Reich, we are all to a certain degree all afraid of the difference. We still tend to distrust people who do not think the way we think, people who do not eat what we eat or do not worship who we worship. Just listen to arguments about religion, about sexual orientation, start a discussion on the Nigerian Civil war and you will see so much hate and bitterness spewing out of the mouth of youths who are supposed to be the symbol of a greater tomorrow.
Today democratization of technology and globalization has made the world a single community, borders lines are disappearing, Negro is mixed with Caucasian, and Latin America is wedded into Asia. The concept of a monolithic, exclusively Caucasian “West” no longer exists, and so is the idea of an exclusively oriental “East” or an exclusively Negro Africa. Boundaries are blurring more and more all the time, and the result is a ripple effect, where a religious riot in the Middle East has ramifications for Africa, a world where a businessman in Japan feels the effects of what happens in Brazil, and an uprising in Yemen can have effects on policy in France. And that is why we must not sit on the sidelines, we must speak against injustice. Technology is helping us to break down barriers. We must not let a misguided sense of self preservation create walls where there are none, because at the end of the day, after everything, political affiliations, social status, ethnicity, and even race is stripped away we are the same Oxygen inhaling and Carbon dioxide exhaling organism who all depend on the same earth to survive. Remember the words of famed scholar Noam Chomsky: “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.” And also the words of the famous African proverb “The slave that watches unconcerned while his fellow slave is buried alive, should not be surprised if it one day comes to his turn.” More than eleven million people died because of a generation’s envy and ignorance. Our generation has their history to learn from, and that is why we consider ourselves more enlightened than them, so how will history view us if we repeat such a gruesome event? Think about it.