The 76th Anniversary of the Auschwitz liberation passed on January 27, 2021, and yet, as Holocaust survivors pass away, we have found that an entire generation does not know of the horrors that took place during World War II.
Many adults between the ages of 18 to 34 lack the basic knowledge of the events that took place during the Holocaust. According to the New York Times article linked above, “Thirty-one percent of Americans, and 41 percent of millennials, believe that two million or fewer Jews were killed in the Holocaust; the actual number is around six million. Forty-one percent of Americans, and 66 percent of millennials, cannot say what Auschwitz was. And 52 percent of Americans wrongly think Hitler came to power through force.”
Although 96% of Americans do believe genocide happened before and during the events of World War II, most of the historical detailing has become fuzzy in the minds of millennials and younger generations.
Why have we forgotten what we must not forget? Why must we never forget the Holocaust? And what is the cost of fading memories of these historical events?
Why Have We Forgotten?
A number of factors can play into the reason why Americans don’t remember the events that they must never forget.
First, certain minority groups targeted during the Holocaust have faded from the picture altogether, such as the Roma, people with disabilities, Polish people, prisoners of war from the Soviet Union, black Germans, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and those from the LGBTQ+ community.
Most, with a very basic idea of the Holocaust, could say that Nazi Germany targeted Orthodox Jews, which they indeed did, but their reach goes far beyond that.
Second, education can play a role in why we forget.
Some schools, distraught by the lack of knowledge have integrated teachings about the Holocaust into their schools’ curriculum, but not every school has followed suit.
Third, with fewer survivors of the events still living, and with media tending to twist and distort news, millennials and younger generations have less of a fighting chance of getting the right information about what really happened during the Holocaust.
I was blessed enough to interview a World War II veteran for his memoir during my sophomore year of college before he passed away, but many in my generation do not have the ability to speak with someone who was an eyewitness during the time of the Holocaust. Although we do have access to books and other media that documents eyewitness accounts such as The Diary of Anne Frank and The Hiding Place, younger generations seem to read less than previous ones. The best way to reach them is via social media, but that is also the best way to reach them with content that twists the truth.
Fourth, and most importantly, Satan likes to cause division and strife (John 8:43-44). If generations forget about the horrors of the Holocaust or approach them in an apathetic manner, what’s to prevent them from repeating them?
Why Must We Never Forget?
As the old mantra goes, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”
If an entire generation of adults is ignorant of most of the details about the Holocaust, what can prevent them from repeating the same atrocities? Although our generation may have seen previous generations as uncivilized and by no means would we, as a “woke” generation, commit the same horrors, we have to keep in mind Nazi Germany was by no means barbaric in the sense that we understand the term.
Germany would have been extremely advanced. And yet, they committed some of the most heinous acts of all history.
Because sin runs rampant in the hearts of men, anyone ruled by the powers of this world is capable of great, evil acts (Ephesians 6:12).
We must never forget because we must never repeat the events of history.
We must also remember that Hitler didn’t simply take power overnight and start the Holocaust the next day. The events happened gradually from 1933 to 1941 until it was too late to stop them. No one saw the Holocaust coming.
Now, we have a historical advantage. We could see how Hitler rose to power and prevent similar leaders today from following in his footsteps, but only if we truly remember history correctly.
With anti-Semitism on the rise, we must especially now, more than ever, never forget the events of the Holocaust and understand that they can happen to any targeted minority group.
As Deuteronomy 32:7 says, “Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations; ask your father, and he will show you, your elders, and they will tell you.” We need to learn everything we can about history, so we do not repeat it.
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Hope Bolinger is an editor at Salem, a multi-published novelist, and a graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 1,100 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her modern-day Daniel trilogy is out with IlluminateYA. She is also the co-author of the Dear Hero duology, which was published by INtense Publications. And her inspirational adult romance Picture Imperfect releases in November of 2021. Find out more about her at her website.