Today is a day of mourning and remembrance that you might not be aware of. April 24th marks Yom Hashoah - a Jewish day of remembrance for the Holocaust - and it is also the Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day. In the 1910’s, almost 1.5 million Armenians (about 98% of them Christian) were rounded up and slaughtered by the hands of the Ottoman Empire in the name of Islam and for absolute control. Then, in the 1930’s-1940’s, the Nazi party (helmed by the infamous Adolf Hitler) in an attempt to exercise complete control over Germany and Europe through “National Socialism,” captured and imprisoned and murdered upwards of six million Jews.
Seven and a half million people, systematically killed at the hands of an oppressive government in the name of power, within the past 100 years.
Let us remember them all and never forget that evil truly does exist in the world, and that “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” - Edmund Burke.
In the years leading up to WWII, Adolf Hitler spent the
majority of his time painting. He produced hundreds of paintings and even attempted
to make a living out of his art. In his youth, Hitler had aspired to become a
professional artist. However, he was rejected twice by the Academy of Fine Arts
Vienna. The institute were displeased by how Hitler had much preferred painting
architecture to people.
Shortly before the outbreak of WWII, Hitler told British ambassador
Nevile Henderson: “I am an artist and not a politician. Once the Polish
question is settled, I want to end my life as an artist.” Even while
serving in WWI, Hitler continued to paint during his downtime. One can’t help
but question whether Hitler had succeeded in his childhood dreams, then maybe
he could have gone down a different and positive path.
I have 8 minutes left before midnight, when Holocaust Remembrance Day will end, so let me tell you the 8 things that I remember most vividly from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
1. The entire museum is suffocating. It’s quiet and somber and can sometimes feel like you’re mourning the loss of all of humanity at once. It feels like a crypt, an urn, where 6 million people are interred.
2. The Holocaust didn’t start with Hitler screaming rabidly about filthy Jews. It started when Hitler slipped dangerous rhetoric into his speeches, blaming crime and unemployment on them.
3. There’s a three-story tall room where every inch of the walls are covered with pictures. Little kids smiling cheesily and older couples sitting next to each other, families. The only thing they have in common? Their lives were exterminated during the Holocaust.
4. A man nicknamed the Angel of Death did medical experiments on children. CHILDREN. He gouged out their leg muscles and introduced life threatening infections just to see how their bodies would react.
5. There’s a boxcar that you’re made to go into on the tour. It’s a real part of a train that transported thousands to death camps. It’s cold and it’s cramped, and the tiny windows don’t give nearly enough light to let you feel relief from the nauseating claustrophobia that creeps on you.
6. There was a children’s transport camp called Terezin, where an art teacher helped the kids express their frustration and terror through their art. They have it hanging on the walls there. It’s normal kid stuff. Butterflies and houses, people performing on stages. Underneath, the name of the child is written, and their date of death. 90℅ of them didn’t make it past 1945.
7. The worst room, by far, are the shoes. It’s a simple exhibit. Both sides of the room have containers simply filled with shoes, old and rotten. It’s not objectively sinister. Until you read the caption and realize that every last shoe came from someone gassed to death. That’s when you start noticing the petite flats and the heavy work shoes, the tiny toddler Mary Janes, faded red. You notice that each shoe had a pair of feet attached, and each pair of feet had a body attached, and each body had a life, a story, a personality, a soul, attached. And you read the poem above, which bitterly notes that the only reason that these shoes weren’t burned with their owner was because they were made of leather and not flesh and blood.
8. You end in a memorial Hall. It’s made of bright marble, and each wall bears the name of a concentration camp. There, you can light a candle. It’s small, it’s insignificant, it does nothing to stop the atrocities committed, but helps. You look above it, and you read: “For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.”
i wanna believe these people unironically saying hitler was antifascist are like 14 … but they’re actually in their fucking 30s. how do you go 30 years on this planet and straight up say one of the most famous fascists on the planet today was antifascist.
Adolf Hitler rehearsing a pose for photographer Heinrich Hoffmann to see how his gestures might look to a public audience. Hitler asked Hoffmann to destroy the photos for being “beneath one’s dignity,” but he disobeyed. 1925