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.