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Preparing for Holocaust Memorial Day ‘One person can make a difference’

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Presentation on theme: "Preparing for Holocaust Memorial Day ‘One person can make a difference’"— Presentation transcript:

1 Preparing for Holocaust Memorial Day ‘One person can make a difference’

2 This year’s theme is: ‘One person can make a difference’

3 “It's not enough to have lived. We should be determined to live for something. May I suggest that it be creating joy for others, sharing what we have for the betterment of personkind, bringing hope to the lost and love to the lonely.” Leo Buscaglia

4 ‘One person can make a difference’ "To save one life is as if you have saved the world" the Talmud During the Holocaust as with other situations when Genocide has occurred, everyone had to make moral choices. Some people become perpetrators, others bystanders. Some chose to help the persecuted – they are helpers and rescuers. Each of these people risked their lives to make a difference. What do you think you would do?

5 Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor, wrote: " remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all...“

6 This year’s Holocaust Memorial Day theme provides an opportunity to focus on: How inhumane humans can be towards each other; The danger for society and all people of persecuting and scapegoating individuals or groups because they are different; How courageous some people can be when faced with evil; How individuals who make and act upon moral choices did and can make a difference; The need for everyone to feel responsible to fight against evil; The power of the individual.

7 What can be the benefit of our focus? This work can help us to reflect on the courage and selflessness of those who stood up for their moral beliefs and tried to make a difference in a time of great evil. From their examples we can all learn more about the nature of human beings and reflect on the best a human can be at a time of great evil. We can also consider personal moral values in the light of our beliefs and reflect on how we behave when faced with injustice or dilemmas. We can begin to consider that we too have a responsibility to stand up for what we believe.

8 Bullying We need to connect this work to our own experiences. Beginning with a focus on bullying will help us to empathise with the victims and recognise the behaviour of the perpetrators as having links to our experiences. Sadly most of us have seen, heard or experienced bullying in school. We will recognise some of the behaviour leading to Genocide as bullying behaviour at its most extreme.

9 What do you know about bullying? Bullying can occur in any group of people whatever its type or size or the age of its members. Research suggests that about 50% people have been bullied at some time during their school careers. A minority of people are seriously bullied; this is a significant minority and some have their lives altered as a result.

10 What does bullying look like? There are many different forms of bullying. At one end of the spectrum it may be meant as teasing and at the other it becomes serious assault or harassment. Verbal and psychological bullying is as harmful and hurtful as physical violence. Sexual, racial and religious harassment are particularly serious forms of bullying.

11 Genocide Genocide is one of the greatest crimes that humans commit. It is an act of multiple murder, intended to destroy an entire group of people, because of who they are. It is usually the act of a government and its collaborators, seeking to destroy a part of the population under its control. Its perpetrators do not respect age, gender, occupation, religion or status. Every member of the group will be targeted for killing. Genocide is never spontaneous; it takes time to plan. The word ‘genocide’ was coined by Raphael Lemkin, a Jewish Polish lawyer, following the Nazi destruction of the Jews of Europe. He used a combination of Greek and Latin words: geno (race or tribe) and cide (killing).

12 Points to consider: how can communities allow genocide to happen? how can individuals stand by and let genocide happen? how can the world let genocides happen? how do people of courage try to make a difference? how did the actions of people of courage make a difference at different times in the past?

13 Who were the people who engaged in genocide? ‘One of the most startling aspects of meeting perpetrators of genocide is how ordinary they often are. In their path to evil we catch reflections of ourselves. Most of us have, at some point, used stereotypes and euphemisms, displaced responsibility, followed instructions better questioned, succumbed to peer pressure, disparaged others, become desensitized to the suffering of others, and turned a blind eye…. …The Khmer Rouge teach us difficult lessons about ourselves and the world in which we live. Such understanding can help us become more self-aware, humble, tolerant, and let's hope, willing to act in the face of evil.’ 'Why Did They Kill? Cambodia in the Shadow of Genocide,' Alexander Hinton, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Rutgers University

14 Who were the bystanders? The Reverend Martin Niemöller, a pastor in the German Confessing Church, spent seven years in a concentration camp. He showed in his writing that ordinary people like him were bystanders: ‘ First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out because I was not a communist. Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the labor leaders, and I did not speak out because I was not a labor leader. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me.’.

15 The ‘Righteous Among Nations’ In 1963, Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, began a worldwide project to grant the title of Righteous Among the Nations to non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. Yad Vashem set up a public committee headed by a retired Supreme Court justice, which is responsible for granting the title. This project is the only one of its kind in the world that honours, using set criteria, the actions of those individuals who rescued Jews during the war.

16 What are the outcomes? The concept of Righteous Among the Nations has become a universal concept and an important symbol. By January 2005, 20,757 people had been recognized as Righteous Among the Nations. Trees, symbols of the renewal of life, are planted in and around Yad Vashem, to remember those non-Jews who acted according to the most noble principles of humanity by risking their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. Plaques next to each tree record the names of those being honoured along with their country of residence during the war.

17 Jerusalem, Israel, Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem

18 Anne Frank wrote in her diary: Anne wrote about the courageous people who were helping her family hide from the Nazis: "It is amazing how much noble, unselfish work these people are doing, risking their own lives to help and save others."

19 The number of non-Jews that risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust is unknown. An important issue that researchers have examined is why the people we know about put their lives at risk to rescue Jews. One person can make a difference

20 After the Holocaust, how did the rescuers and protectors explain their actions? A number of French, German, Italian, Polish, and Norwegian rescuers explained: “My religion says we are our brother’s keeper.”

21 ‘One person can make a difference’ Consider faith teachings about responsibility for others and how that might be demonstrated, for example…

22 Christian perspective: New Testament: MT 7:12 NIV " So in everything, do to others, what you would have them do to you…"

23 Muslim perspective: The Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) Hadith ‘Not one of you truly believes until you wish for others what you wish for yourself. ‘

24 Baha’i perspective: Baha'u'llah "the Earth is but one country and mankind its citizens"

25 After the Holocaust, how did the rescuers and protectors explain their actions? “We had to help these people in order to save them, not because they were Jews, but because they were persecuted human beings who needed help.” “I sensed I had in front of me human beings that were hunted down like wild animals. This aroused a feeling of brotherhood and a desire to help.”

26 After the Holocaust, how did the rescuers and protectors explain their actions? “I was always filled with love for everyone, for every creature. For me everything is alive.” “They taught me to respect all human beings.” “My parents taught me discipline, tolerance, and service of other people when they needed something.”

27 Holocaust Activities and starting points Where do prejudice, discrimination and genocide exist today? How does Amnesty International supports victims today?

28 Holocaust Activities and starting points Reflect on the following from the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood“

29 Leo Buscaglia ‘ Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.’

30 ‘One person can make a difference’ At a time of cruelty such as the genocides of World War 2, Cambodia or Rwanda, what might it mean to 'love your neighbour‘? How might you support people who are suffering from conflict today? ©Denise Chaplin, SIO RE

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