One of the more sobering times of my week in Washington, D.C., was the afternoon we spent at the Holocaust Museum. The dehumanizing atrocities perpetrated by one group of people on another group of people is almost unimaginable.
And yet there it was—all the nauseating evidence of man’s evil right before my eyes. It was so overwhelming that I had to hurry past the final exhibits.
Commander of the Allied Forces Dwight Eisenhower wrote to George C. Marshall, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chief Of Staff—
…the most interesting—although horrible—sight that I encountered during the trip was a visit to a German internment camp near Gotha. The things I saw beggar description. While I was touring the camp I encountered three men who had been inmates and by one ruse or another had made their escape. I interviewed them through an interpreter. The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were so overpowering as to leave me a bit sick. In one room, where they were piled up twenty or thirty naked men, killed by starvation, George Patton would not even enter. He said that he would get sick if he did so. I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in a position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to “propaganda.” (emphasis added)
A statement from President Ronald Reagan, from 1988, is etched on the wall of the Holocaust Museum—
We who did not go their way owe them this: We must make sure that their deaths have posthumous meaning. We must make sure that from now until the end of days all humankind stares this evil in the face … and only then can we be sure that it will never arise again. (emphasis added)
The rise to power of the Nazis was swift. Their evil was initially unopposed. Few voices spoke out, and even few were heeded. We must never allow this to happen again!
As George Santayana said, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” As revolting as it is, we must learn from this lesson. You must look this evil in the face. You must allow your children to look this evil in the face. If we don’t, we will be doomed to live through these unthinkable atrocities all over again.