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January 25, 2024

27 January: Holocaust Remembrance Day.

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In a few days, it will be Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day that was chosen by the United Nations to remember the horrible genocide of around 6 million Jewish people in Europe carried out by the Nazi regime in Germany between approximately 1941 and the end of the Second World War.

As a matter of fact, many examples of genocide can be found in history, even in recent history, but they are hardly talked about or remembered, particularly in the West. The list is long, including the genocides that took place in Libya between 1929 and 1932 (by the Italian Fascist army), in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979 (by the Khmer Rouge regime), in Bosnia between 1992 and 1995 (by the Bosnian-Serb army), in Rwanda in 1994 (by Hutu militias), in Congo between 1996 and 1997 (by the Rwanda-backed AFDL and the Rwanda Patriotic Army), and many others.

The Holocaust, however, might be the most horrific that ever happened for its extension and brutality. We should not forget, however, that the Holocaust did not include only Jews, but also disabled people, homosexuals, Slavs, POWs, leftists, Romani (Gypsies), and others. This is the list of the 17 million victims of the Holocaust according to Wikipedia:

Victims

Jews:
6 million

Soviet civilians:
4.5 million

Soviet POWs:
3.3 million

Poles:
1.8 million

Serbs:
More than 310,000

Disabled people:
270,000

Romani (Gypsies):
250,000-500,000

Freemasons:
80,000

Slovenes:
20,000-25,000

Homosexuals:
5,000-15,000

Spanish Republicans:
3,500

Jehovah’s Witnesses:
1,700

Total: 17 million

It can be clearly seen that the Jews suffered the highest number of casualties, but I believe it is sad and unfair that other groups that suffered equally and died in concentration camps are hardly considered and thought about. I think particularly of the Romani people, because in spite of their great suffering (perhaps a quarter to half of the whole Romani population in Europe was wiped out), they are still discriminated against in most countries where they now live.

I suggest that this time we remember Romani people, and all the other groups mentioned above as well, who suffered as much as the Jews.

This time, I also think we should spare a thought for the Palestinians as well, 25,000 of them having been killed in Gaza in three months, many of whom children, and many still dying under Israeli bombs, not to count the wounded and amputated.

Yes, there is a huge contradiction here—the extreme right-wing government in Israel is brutally killing so many innocent people in a way that is not so different, it seems to me, from the killing the Jews suffered in Germany 80 years ago. Most Jewish people know this and are horrified by what is happening in Gaza, but many people in Israel are so brainwashed that they don’t really know or realize what their present government is doing. They say this is needed to defend themselves, but if ends justify means, they are no better than Hamas. Killing and maiming innocent people is not self-defense; it is actually a cruel and stupid way to strengthen terrorism and instability in that part of the world (and beyond). I cannot see any justification to this whatsoever.

Violence is never an answer, as the Buddha, among many others, clearly stated:

In this world

Hate never yet dispelled hate.

Only love dispels hate.

This is the law,

Ancient and inexhaustible.

(Dhammapada)

And thinking particularly of the present Palestinian tragedy, these words, again from the Buddha, come to my mind:

All beings tremble before violence.

All fear death.

All love life.

See yourself in others.

Then whom can you hurt?

What harm can you do?

He who seeks happiness

By hurting those who seek happiness

Will never find happiness.

For your brother is like you.

He wants to be happy.

Never harm him

And when you leave this life

You too will find happiness.

(Dhammapada)

Even though so many people in this world are deluded, driven by hate, rage, and greed, and there is not so much room for optimism, I really wish that the Holocaust Remembrance Day will be an occasion for reflection on all the stupid violence occurring in the world (aided by the arms industry) and for strengthening our resolve to be better human beings, accepting and cherishing difference in ethnicity, culture, and religious beliefs.

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