By Celia Stem
Everyone at St. Mary’s learns about the atrocities of the Holocaust in history classes. How does such a horrific event of the past relate to events happening around the world today? And what role do we play as global citizens?
"Our fear cannot dictate whether or not we make the same mistakes we did decades ago."
History is meant to teach us that we cannot repeat the same mistakes that we made over seventy years ago. The evil in this world cannot be pushed to the side, to be repeated over and over again.
Recently, the son of a Holocaust survivor, Jerry Ehrlich, spoke to us in Chapel about how the Holocaust affected survivors long after the Holocaust ended. Hearing his story was so important because I learned that many survivors didn’t have anywhere to go after the Holocaust and were unable to enter the United States, a perspective I had not even considered. People like Ehrlich are still talking about the Holocaust today, years later, because learning about this horrible event teaches us tolerance and acceptance. The history of the Holocaust translates to problems the world faces in the present, like the Syrian refugee crisis. Just as people during the Holocaust searched for a way to get to the United States to escape the Nazis in the 1940s, the Syrian people who are involved in a civil war right now are trying to get to the United States to escape the terror and death that surrounds them in Syria. Refugees are desperate for sanctuary, but often are rejected out of fear of terrorism. Our fear cannot dictate whether or not we make the same mistakes we did decades ago.
History holds us accountable for not repeating the same faults of the past; we must take responsibility for our mistakes. Ehrlich teaches about the Holocaust to inform others, but also because people still deny that the Holocaust ever took place. Emma Mansberg (12) says “It is a fearful thing when people try to discredit the lives and deaths of eleven million people, but if anything, this should urge us to tell the story and fight injustice so nothing like this ever happens again.” Our future depends on our willingness to preserve our history and carry our stories on to other generations.
The other day at an I Am That Girl meeting I learned about the significance of discussion and how talking about important things from our past and present is so necessary for our future. Being openly honest and talking about the truth has the power to change lives and change opinions. We cannot stop discussing and preserving our world’s history or else we risk repeating the mistakes of the past.