Genocide Happens?

I cried in public last week. After an hour in the Holocaust Museum, my heart was aching for the millions that were systematically murdered. After reading It Happened in Italy, I wanted there to be more happy endings to the Holocaust story. I wanted assurance that Italy wasn’t an isolated country in helping out the Jews. But it didn’t happen.  The only sounds echoing against the walls of the museum were sobs, gasps, and the quiet shuffling of feet as people went from room to room. The room was silent not because there wasn’t any pain but rather because there was so much. Museums are generally quiet places but this silence held weight.

When I walked into the three-story gallery of pictures, I lifted my head to see if I could look at the pictures. They were all the residents of a small Jewish village. Not one of them survived the Holocaust. The portraits captured different times in people’s lives — baby dedications, family gatherings, weddings, and so many other reasons that people wanted to have their portrait captured on paper. Every picture was a person. A life. A story. All of them dead. Their stories will never be told. Their lights were blown out by an evil windstorm and all that was left was their pictures.

During the video montages, it was easy to see how Hitler came into power. He was the classic political outsider who promised change and a renewed national fervor. He stirred the passions of Germany’s youth, uniting them to serve their country and the Nazi cause. The Jews were the outsiders. Societal ills were blamed on them and the bolshivicks. Hitler’s brilliant PR man, Goebel, was able to take the people’s unnamed unease and turn it into blatant hatred.

More videos showed footages of the Allied GI’s as they liberated prisoners from the death camps. Blinking skeletons met the gazes of the military men, not knowing if they should laugh from fear or relief. Shattered lives were given the chance to become whole again – or at least, slightly less shattered. The liberation had as much of an effect on the rescuers as it did the people whom they rescued.

“How could this have happened?” was a common refrain among the troops.

I think God wept during the Holocaust. He must have. Seeing faded glimpses of the horror was hard enough. But to see the full expanse of bloodshed and hate would be something only God could handle.

I can’t wrap my mind around the carnage or the reasoning that would lead to it. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

Genoicide happens.

It shouldn’t happen. But it does. And it will continue to happen. Eastern Europe didn’t learn from Western Europe’s folly. Africa continues to divide on racial lines, fracturing like a Pollock painting. The dead continue to pile up but no one does anything about the stink.




2 Responses to “Genocide Happens?”
  1. Fig says:

    I went to the similar museum in Southern CA 11 years ago. It’s so easy to forget the ramifications of sin nature.

  2. Joy says:

    Anything about the Holocaust reduces me to tears and deep sadness, also anything about Genocide. There was a movie I recently watched (starring Hugh Dancy) of genocide in ? (can’t remember). I couldn’t think straight for days. There are no words 😦

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