Time to Reflect on 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of WWII Concentration CampsRoundup
tags: Holocaust, human rights
Rick Halperin is director of the Human Rights Program at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
This month also brings reminders of events from World War II’s final weeks, and other 75th commemorative anniversaries, when American forces, similar to the Soviet Red Army, stumbled across the horrors of Nazi concentration camps on German soil.
Most notably, the U.S. forces “liberated” the camps at Buchenwald, near Weimar in eastern Germany, on April 11; at Dachau, a few miles from the city of Munich on April 29 in Bavaria, and at Mauthausen-Gusen, in Austria, on May 5.
It is believed that more than 56,000 people died at Buchenwald during its years of operation (1938-1945); more than 40,000 at Dachau, which was the only concentration camp to be open during the full 12 years of the Third Reich’s existence, 1933-1945; and perhaps as many as 122,000-320,000 people at the Mauthausen-Gusen complex of camps, also during the years 1938-1945.
While the camps on German soil were not meant to be pure extermination sites, the numbers of victims who did not survive them is nonetheless horrific and deserving of our remembrance.
Our job as humans is to try to remember the horrors of past human behavior, to become educated about why they happened, and to prevent them from occurring again.
We seem to have failed in our efforts to rid the world of genocide since 1945, and the phrase “Never Again” seems to ring hollow as we remember other global atrocities since the end of World War II.
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