Never to forget

A note on neglected history and inhumane crimes of hate.

I don't like to look back at the history of the country I grew up in. In no case because it does not interest me or I try to suppress it. It's because it is so intangible that people commit acts of cruelty for which all words of dislike and accusation are not enough.

77 years ago today, on May 3, 1945, the survivors of the Neuengamme concentration camp were liberated as the Second World War was coming to an end. Without wanting to devalue a single incident of this period, however, the Holocaust and the ideological destruction of precious human lives are at the forefront here.

Already before today's commemoration I had visited the memorial site of the former camp and every time I am shocked by the numbers, the pictures, but – above all – by the names. Endless lists documenting Nazi atrocities and portraying individuals as if they were objects who did not deserve to live a happy life – respectively a life at all.

"How could this happen? Why did it happen to me?" asked eyewitness and survivor Helga Melmed of the Neuengamme satellite camp Poppenbüttel, only to answer: "The simple truth is 'HATE!' Hate breeds prejudice and prejudice often breeds violence."

A touching story of a then 12-year-old adolescent girl who, along with 5.6 to 6.3 million (!) Jews, fell victim to extermination lust and repulsive misanthropy. I feel sick when I think of what innocent people had to endure and how memorials with inscriptions like "Your suffering, your struggle and your death shall not be in vain!" are the pitiful attempt to find an adequate answer to the historical events.

Memorial at the Neuengamme concentration camp

The cure, to the core, is education

What happened, happened. Now it is up to posterity to make sure that this disgusting part of (German) history is not repeated; "Never to forget."

To contribute something to the change it doesn't have to be an honorary office or joining a big organization. Our society consists of people who live together in a community. It is important to strengthen this cohesion instead of destroying it from within. Therefore, it is up to each individual to act properly and to intervene where injustice occurs.

We all carry this responsibility within us, just as we carry both love and hate. Ultimately, it depends on us which side we choose to act and interact with each other. To quote Melmed once again:

"You have the power in your hands to make this world a better place. How about if we educate… Instead of hate and try to imagine love!"

More on the memorial of the Neuengamme concentration camp