Man’s Inhumanity To Man

by Elmer Boutin on April 19, 2012

The "Arbeit Macht Frei" Gate at the Dachau Concentration Camp

The "Arbeit Macht Frei" Gate at the Dachau Concentration Camp

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day. It’s a good time to step back and take a look at ourselves and realize that at times we humans are not “all that.”

I was very fortunate to have lived in Germany for six years. It’s a beautiful country filled with wonderful  people.

There is also a darker side, though. That would be the remnants of the horrors that the Nazis inflicted on those who didn’t agree with them and follow the party line as well as those whose ethnicity didn’t line up with their idea of “purity.” Whenever someone would visit me, I would make sure to take them to see the concentration camp in the city of Dachau. I felt it was important to see the memorial to those who perished there as well as to remind ourselves that we can be very horrible at times.

Walking around in the woods around Darmstadt, south of Frankfurt, one would often run into abandoned railroad platforms. These were abandoned remains of efforts to ship human cargo across vast distances.

It wasn’t just the Nazis who mistreated others during that era. To be sure, Stalin carried on a holocaust of his own, killing untold millions during his reign over the Soviet Union. My friend, Alan K’necht, recently shared his father’s story of being forcibly moved from Poland to the Soviet Union during World War II.

In more recent times we’ve seen first-hand the atrocities inflicted one against another in The Balkans and in some African nations.

History is filled with stories of one group trying to eliminate another. Let’s take this day to note that we can be cruel and inhuman if we allow ourselves to be so. Let’s learn from our dark history so we can avoid it in future.

No matter what our politics, I think we can all agree that as a whole we could certainly learn to be more tolerant of each other. Live and let live should be our motto.

That’s what this day means to me.

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