1945-Genocide Defeated?

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like many Americans believe that the end of the Holocaust marked the end of genocide.  The other night, I was talking with my friend, Michael Smith, about this particular phenomenon.  Michael is alot smarter me, so our conversations always supply my brain with plenty of thoughts to munch on.  Anyway, we asked for the opinion of our friend, Carl, who is also smarter than me, and we came up with the following conclusions:

1.) The Allied victory in World War II is deeply embeded in American culture.  As a result, Americans have a sense that they are the “Nazi killers” or the “great liberators” of Europe.  These labels undoubtedly contain a great deal of truth.  Yes, American soldiers killed many Nazi soldiers; And yes, Americans played an enormous role in the liberation of Europe form German and Italian control.  More importantly, especially in regards to this blog, Americans liberated the Jews from the indescribable horrors of Nazi concentration camps. 

My point is that American society has adopted a mentality of “victory” over genocide.  In my public school experience, World War II was portrayed as an epic battle of good versus evil, in which good ultimately  prevailed.  The oppressors were defeated, and the oppressed were freed.  Furthermore, the Holocaust is the only genocide that is typically studied in the North Carolina curriculum.  If genocide is portrayed in the context of American victory, is it far-fetched for the average American to believe that the battle is over?

2.) The proliferation of literature, art, and interviews from Holocaust survivors has allowed for a large degree of education about the horrors of concentration camps.  This abundance of information is lacking, or is largely ignored, for more recent atrocities.  How can we bring this much needed information to the forefront of American society?  

So, what do you think?  Are we correct in our speculations? Are there other factors we have not taken into account?  Have we entirely missed the mark?  This is your discussion too.  Let us know.

 -Ben P

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One response to “1945-Genocide Defeated?

  1. Christa

    You, Ben, are also a lot smarter than me. I enjoyed reading your blog. I think you are right in your statements about the way America portrays WWII — good versus evil.
    STAND at UNCW is in the process of writing legislation to have more than just the Holocaust taught as genocide is schools. Unfortunately, our public schools don’t like to teach material — especially in history — that points out our glaring failure. Rwanda is an example of that; so is Cambodia; so is Bosnia and so on. Genocide has happened again and again since 1945, and swept under the mainstream rug. Also, Africa is not a popular topic in high school history.
    I think genocide has changed forms. It’s not the tattoo on the arm, gas chambers type; it’s quieter. It’s rape, blocking food supply, poisoning wells, and inhumane, torturous murder. Crimes against humanity? Definitely. Just as devastating? Yes. So why have all the genocides since America saved the day in 1945 been shielded from public eyes?

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