Originally published in the Naples Daily News on Monday, January 13, 2014
Written by Amy Snyder
On January 27, 1945 the Soviet Army liberated the Nazi death camp called Auschwitz. Although several camps had been liberated before this, and certainly after, this event is the one that stands out in the minds of the public today. Auschwitz represents the worst of humanity and is held up as a symbol of evil to be fought against at all costs.
In November of 2005, the United Nations Outreach Program was created to remind the world of the events and lessons of the Holocaust in order to prevent future atrocities. The U.N. designated January 27th as International Holocaust Remembrance Day – a time for the international community to “reaffirm that the Holocaust, which resulted in the murder of one-third of the Jewish people along with countless members of other minorities, will forever be a warning to all people of the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice”.
Each year, the Holocaust Museum & Education Center of Southwest Florida, along with many other community organizations, presents a program to our local community to commemorate, memorialize and educate. In the past, we’ve been blessed to work with Dr. Doug Renfroe and Voices of Naples, as well as Dr. Marian Dolan and The Choir Project, presenting our programs at Naples United Church of Christ, and most recently at the Green at Mercato.
For 2014, the Museum is pleased to work with The Center for Judaic, Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Florida Gulf Coast University to present Hannibal Travis, Associate Professor of Law at Florida International University. Professor Travis will be speaking on the topic “Prior Warning of the Holocaust: Did the Armenian Genocide Inspire Hitler?” The program will take place on Sunday, January 26th at 2:00 pm at FGCU’s Edwards Hall, Room 112.
Also in recognition of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Holocaust Museum will be hosting a talk on Monday, January 27th with Wolfgang Vogel, a former member of the Hitler Youth, who will share about the dangers of propaganda and the lessons for today. Doors will open at 5:30 pm for people to tour the Museum and the program will begin at 6:45 pm.
The study of the Holocaust, from the perspective of the Museum, is not only to help us understand the historical events, but also to inspire us to be better people. We cannot know where we’ve come from or how to move forward without knowing our personal, national and international history. A basic education in the events and people involved in the Holocaust can inspire us to “do good” in ways we may not have considered before. However, as we will hear from Professor Travis and Mr. Vogel, knowledge of past events can also lead to a re-occurrence of the evils of which humanity is capable.
It is our job as responsible citizens, parents and educators to lead our young people down a path of respect and compassion. It is not a path necessarily of tolerance and acceptance, because tolerance and acceptance of false and harmful ideas is often the beginning of genocide. It is rather, the path of discernment and truth. This is not an easy path, but the only one that provides us with the necessary tools to defeat evil.
As we approach the 69th Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, may we each endeavor to make our lives the light that overcomes the darkness.
We invite you to visit the Holocaust Museum on Sunday, January 26th as there will be no admission fee in recognition of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.