Today is Holocaust Memorial Day.
While it is important to have such a reminder every year, I personally feel that a one-day reminder makes no difference for me. The memory of the Holocaust is integral part of what shapes my identity as a German, somehow always present, part of the story of my country and my family, and never taken lightly. The question is still, and always will be, how to make sense of it, and how to not allow anything like this to happen again, no matter where and no matter to who.
The extreme right is on the rise in so many places at the moment – economic downturn equals more followers for whatever scapegoat theories are around. People want easy solutions that mean they don’t have to get involved, think for themselves, step up and become active participants. Comfort zones can be dangerous places.
What matters most is that the voice of ignorance is not given centre stage. It does not do to just turn our backs in boredom or annoyance and ignore it, because others will listen, and follow, and repeat as true whatever was printed in the ‘Daily XYZ’. There have to be other – and better – voices speaking up, making the case for actual human encounter over prejudice and scapegoating… Democracy means far-right parties are allowed to speak. Thing is, they do.
If we aren’t ready to stand against them, against ignorance, we help them on. Such sins of omission have consequences.