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Visions Unseen Eyes are the window to the soul. (Titelman) Why did she have no eyes?

Why was she staring at me, like I had been the one to torment her? What had I done wrong? I hadnt done anything. These were the thoughts that echoed in my head, my heart, and my soul, as I stared at the weather-worn statue of a little girl in the Jerusalem stone plaza of the Holocaust Memorial in Miami, Florida. None of the sculptures had eyes; yet, this was offset by the sheer multitude of hands, every one of them outstretched - but there was no one there to reach back. Once again, I thought to myself: I hadnt done anything. In this moment, I realized that mentality, fueled by ageless bigotry, was exactly what had executed eleven million innocent people sixty years ago. Hatred comes from the heart; contempt from the head; and neither feeling is quite within our control wrote the psychologist Arthur Schopenhauer. Does that make hatred an intrinsic human quality? Possibly. Does that make the Holocaust an unavoidable lapse in history? No. Staring at those eyeless faces and frozen hands, I refuse to believe systematic murder is an inevitable tragedy; I refuse to believe it was destined to occur because the Jews had already been persecuted for thousands of years. Just as it is incomplete to say that the Holocaust ended in 1946, it is also insufficient to say the Holocausts beginning was in 1933 (The Holocaust Chronicle). But this is so much more than a catastrophe for the Jewish people. The Holocaust represents the ultimate evil of humanity, not just because of who it targeted, including gypsies, gays, and Jehovahs Witnesses, but also because of what it targeted: morality, democracy, and

human nature.

This is why we must remember. The Holocaust opened our eyes to one mans

capability, and one nations culpability. We must teach future generations how to recognize the signs of prejudice by standing up for justice and plurality in our everyday lives. Only by setting an ethical precedent can we ensure a disaster of this magnitude never occurs again. Education is the most powerful tool against ignorance. However, most schoolchildren are taught only numbers: six million Jews perished in the Holocaust, 130,000 of nearly one million Roma and Sinti died in concentration camps, and 100,000 mentally ill adults were murdered in institutions. Yet, numbers are exactly what dehumanized the victims of the Holocaust. Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night wrote Elie Wiesel in his landmark memoir. Night is one of the best textbooks for Holocaust learning because it engages the reader through explicit imagery, and then accentuates themes everyone can relate to. Isolation, parent-child relationships, and religion are all subjects we have come across in our lives especially in those of adolescents. The current generation is the single most important demographic to reach out to in Holocaust education, because they have the power to change, as they are still in the process of changing, themselves. Youth voice has a tremendous impact on program participation and program outcomes, both short term and long term (Education Commission of the States). In fact, Adolf Hitler used this same mentality in employing his own juvenile Nazi army. Young boys could join the Hitler Youth as young as ten years old, and women had their own separate branch known as the The League of German Girls. And even if they are still not complete National Socialists Hitler declared, whatever class consciousness or social status might still be left . . . the Wehrmacht will take care of that (Holocaust Encyclopedia). This horrifying truth that young minds could be bred to hate is a threat all too real in todays society, though. Too often we ostracize various

groups of individuals, such as gays and mentally-disabled, simply because they are different and that difference terrifies us. Whom they fear they hate (Thompson). Unlike hate, which is a distinctly human trait, fear has an especially bestial quality to its nature. Yet, both are so intertwined in our psyche that it becomes increasingly difficult to differentiate the two when confronted with an idea or people that are not familiar to us. Even in todays society, fear dictates our judgments, even when, as Franklin Delano Roosevelt himself said, The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Of course, this supposition becomes increasingly harder to hold when an entire nation is suffering from hyperinflation, a crashing jobs market, and the emotional aftermath of a global war, as Germany was, in the 1920s and 30s. When a large group of people are in such a state of turmoil, they often turn toward a heroic figure. Adolf Hitler arrived at such a time. This situation has played out in multiple chaotic times in history with a deity, or group of deities, usually conforming to the role of the savior. Fear becomes an epidemic, festering on the uncertainty humans face in times of crisis. Psychologists discovered when people who share beliefs get togetherthey become more convinced that their beliefs are right and they become more extreme in their views (Gardner). When many Germans latched onto the Jews and other minorities as scapegoats for their problems, it seemed only natural to concur with the majority views, dubbed confirmation bias. However, what made the Nazi regime truly burgeon was the use of propaganda, especially through media advertisements, to arouse paranoia in the country. Captions like The Jew: The inciter of war, the prolonger of war (German Propaganda Archive) blanketed posters across Germany. This wasnt just a war on people; it soon became a crusade against race, religion, culture and identity.

With every tomorrow, a little piece of yesterday is forgotten. Every day, more opinions about the Holocaust are being written, as fewer survivors live on to tell their tales. We are in danger of approaching a state of analytical overload, giving more opportunities for Holocaust deniers to espouse their views. The presence of the Holocaust in culture has insured it is no longer a subject confined to the Jew[s]; but the priceis a blurring of what made it happen in the first place (The Aftermath of the Holocaust). The most dangerous outcome of this blurring is complete incomprehension of this experience as opposed to corrigible navet. To counteract this dilemma, not only must we remember the enormity of the Holocaust, but we also cannot forget this event happened to real people under the despotism of a real man. By recognizing the loss of actual human beings, with real aspirations, we can truly define and teach the horrors of the Holocaust. In retrospect, I know exactly why she had no eyes. We are her eyes. We are the hopeful vision she could not see. We are her soul, and her mothers soul, and the souls of eleven million martyrs of humanity. When we look through her eyes, we will realize what she has suffered, and we will fight to never let that suffering happen again. The more we look back into the past, the further we can see into the future.

Works Cited Cesarani, David. The Aftermath of the Holocaust. Encyclopedia of the Holocaust. Jerusalem: Jerusalem Publishing House, 2000. 85-100. Print. Education Commission of the States. Integrating Youth Voice in Service-Learning. Ecs.org. Learning In Deed, 2001. Web. 19 Apr. 2012. Gardner, Dan. The Science of Fear: How the Culture of Fear Manipulates Your Brain. New York: Penguin Group, 2008. Print. German Propaganda Archive. Der Jude. Cartoon. Calvin.edu. Calvin, 12 Mar. 2012. Web. 19 Apr. 2012. <http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/gpa/ww2era.htm#Posters>. Harran, Marilyn, and Dieter Kuntz, eds. The Holocaust Chronicle. Lincolnwood: Publications International, 2003. Print. Holocaust Encyclopedia. Indoctrinating Youth. Ushmm.org. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 6 Jan. 2011. Web. 19 Apr. 2012. <http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/ article.php?ModuleId=10007820#seealso>. Roosevelt, Franklin Delano. Inaugural Address. 4 Mar. 1943. Historymatters.gmu.edu. Web. 19 Apr. 2012. <http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5057/>. Schopenhauer, Arthur. Studies in Pessimism from the Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer. 1903. Radford: Wilder, 2008. Print. Thompson, Sharon Elaine. Hate Groups. San Diego: Lucent, 1994. Print. Titelman, Gregory, ed. Americas Popular Proverbs and Sayings. 2nd ed. N.p.: Random, 2000. Print. Wiesel, Elie. Night. Trans. Marion Wiesel. 1958. New York: Hill and Wang, 2006. Print.