Remembrance, participation, and reflection. Why do people build memorials? Why is remembering the Holocaust important? To whom is it important? What does “Facing History and Ourselves” mean to you?.
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Remembrance, participation, and reflection Why do people build memorials? Why is remembering the Holocaust important? To whom is it important? What does “Facing History and Ourselves” mean to you?
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana, philosopher • Juxtapose this with a comment by Hitler in 1939, “Who after all speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” • He is referring to the mass murder of over 1 million innocent Armenians by the Turks during WW I. • Nearly 20 years after that genocide, the perpetrators were unpunished, the Turkish government denied it occurred, and the media outside the Armenian community had largely forgotten.
“Knowing and remembering the evil in history and in each of us might not prevent a recurrence of genocide. But ignorance of history or the suppression of memory removes the surest defense we have, however inadequate, against such gigantic cruelty and indifference to it.”Judith Miller, journalist
“Unless we keep hammering home the irrefutable and indisputable facts of the human experience, history as it was experienced by people, we are going to find ourselves increasingly unable to draw distinctions between what was and what we think was.” Bill Moyers, journalist
In the postwar years in Germany amnesia became a contagious national disease, affecting even postwar children. In this new world…there was no room for curious children and adolescents. We postponed our questions and finally abandoned them altogether. Bini Reichel, history book writer
“It is not a case of coming to terms with the past. That is not possible. It cannot be subsequently modified or made undone. However, anyone who closes his eyes to the past is blind to the present. Whoever refuses to remember the inhumanity is prone to new risks of infection.” • Richard von Weizsaecker, President of West Germany at the 40th Anniversary of WW II
Germany and France have made Holocaust denial a crime, punishable by a fine and imprisonment. • Education is encouraged. • “Through his books, Elie Wiesel has given us not only an eyewitness account of what happened, but also an analysis of the evil powers which lay behind the events.” Nobel Peace Prize chairman awarding Weisel in 1986
To what extent can any memorial help us truly understand the experiences of victims of the Holocaust? How can we symbolize the vast number of victims while still honoring each unique life that was lost—the schoolchild, the aunt, the tailor, the physicist, the sister, etc? Who should decide how the Holocaust is represented and remembered—what symbols are used, what facts are presented, and whose stories are told?
The Paper Clips Project represents what can happen when individuals and groups participate in their broader community and world…students have a more confident and informed sense of the role they can play, however small, in creating more tolerant humane communities—in their classrooms, their schools, their homes, their neighborhoods, and in the larger world.
“The problem of democracy is the problem of the individual citizen who takes himself or herself lightly historically… By that I mean if you do not believe that you can make a difference, you’re not going to try to make a difference, you’re not going to try to matter, and you will leave it to someone else who may or may not do what is in the best interest of your values or of democracy’s values.” Bill Moyers
“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.”Robert F. Kennedy
In 1938, Hitler told a crowd of thousands of young people, “Never forget that one day you will rule the world.” He understood that how the young are educated influences their beliefs and attitudes as adult citizens. Education can foster the skills, habits, and attitudes required for thoughtful, civic engagement in a diverse nation. Hitler’s words, certainly true, can have an ironic ring now.
Read history: so learn your place in Time;And go to sleep: all this was done before;We do it better, fouling every shore;We disinfect, we do not probe the crime.Our engines plunge into the seas, they climbAbove our atmosphere: we grow not moreProfound as we approach the ocean's floor;our flight is lofty; it is not sublime.Yet long ago this Earth by struggling menWas scuffed, was scraped by mouths that bubbled mud;And will be so again, and yet again;Until we trace our poison to its budAnd root, and there uproot it: until then,Earth will be warmed each winter by man's blood.Edna St. Vincent Millay
Margot Stern Strom’s entire lesson plan from which much of this information came is posted on the website along with several interesting links. Follow up activities from which to choose: • Silent then Sound Graffiti Board • Make a Memorial • Found Poem or Black Out Poetry