Does humanity learn from history

Does humanity learn from history? The Holocaust – Three critical lessons for humanity

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Does humanity learn from history? The Holocaust – Three critical lessons for humanity

Nothing sends shivers down the spine of humanity more than the mention of the Holocaust. Holocaust refers to the mass killing of European Jews between 1941-1945. (Polgar, M. 2018). The horror of the Holocaust lies not only with the horrendous experience the Jews had to go through. It lies with the fact that the entire world was silent while the Jews were being killed and forced into concentration camps. The Holocaust was a tragic incident in the history of human beings that taught us very significant lessons, such as the danger of silence, the importance of standing up against evil, and the power of evil.

Holocaust taught us the importance of fighting evil. Holocaust was the epitome of levels of evil that humanity can descend to when left unchecked. The Holocaust was state-sponsored. The killing and systemic persecution of the Jews were due to two beliefs the Nazis had. Firstly they thought that the Jews were an inferior race. (Polgar, M. 2018). They did not see Jews as religious but as a race. The killing of the Jews was an attempt by the Nazi government to rid the Aryan race of Jewish impurity. (Wolff, N. (2020). The German Nazis wanted to develop a superior race, so physicians were very much part of the exercise. This cleansing was done by burning the Jews whole in the crematoriums, shooting them, gassing them and starving them to death in concentration camps. (Polgar, M. 2018).

The Nazi government saw the Jews as an obstacle to their political aspirations. Jews promoted social justice, while the Nazis wanted the strong trampled upon the weak. The sheer atrocities and the lengths they were willing to go to because they saw themselves as superior Aryan race is appalling. Overall, the Nazis killed approximately 6 million Jews, representing about two-thirds of the entire Jewish population. The attempt of the Nazis to annihilate almost an entire people teaches us the power of evil and the extent of that evil when left unchecked. The Nazis could accomplish all these by enacting laws that targeted the Jews because universal human rights had not been declared. The Holocaust was an extreme violation of human rights. The declaration of Human rights by the U.N. was to prevent another genocide. (Polgar, M. 2018).

The Holocaust taught the danger of silence in the face of evil. While Jews were being annihilated and forced into concentration camps, the entire world watched in silence. Throughout 1938-1942 American Newspapers reported on the persecution of the Jews. The News reports on the killing and persecution did not cover much space in the Newspapers. (A Holocaust curriculum (no date) LifeUnworthy of Life. )The much that president Roosevelt was to recall the American Ambassador to Germany and issue a public statement condemning the behaviour. The government officials and president Roosevelt denied the reports or termed the reports as simply ‘unconfirmed’ America with much influence that she had should have responded by placing sanctions on Germany or any other sanctions, but she watched. Infact in 1943, U.S. Airforce took photos of people being forced into gas chambers. When the photos were showcased in the US, John McCloy insisted that the photos should be kept secret. (A Holocaust curriculum (no date) LifeUnworthy of Life.)

When the Jewish leaders asked the U.S. for planes so that they could bomb Auschwitz’s gas chambers, they said that was British responsibility, not theirs. On the other hand, the British responded to the polish and Jewish leaders, saying that such a bombing did not constitute tactical efficiency. America proposed that the only way they could help the Jews was by winning the war against the Germans. (A Holocaust curriculum (no date) Life Unworthy of Life.)The silence and deliberate inaction of the allied officials gave the ticket to the Germans to continue killing the Jews. The last-minute bombing of Budapest by America salvaged almost nothing. The real damage had been done in Germany. Their silence meant that they were in agreement with what the Jews were doing in one way or another.

The Holocaust taught lessons on bioethics that should be taught to the next generation so that such atrocities are not committed again. Levine, writing on the role that physicians played during the Holocaust, argues even in commitment to science, physicians should balance between scepticism and reason when searching for truth. (Levine, M. A.,2019) This means that when searching for answers in medicine, care should be taken that the researchers, for the love of science, abandon all reason. The second lesson that Levine proposes is that physicians should maintain a balance between clinical detachment and necessary humanity and intimacy with their patients. (Levine, M. A.,2019) The physicians operating during the Nazi regime helped shape the Nazi ideology. They believed in Eugenics and experimented on patients to further their professional careers. Levine argues that today’s physicians are faced with the same bioethics problem and should learn from the Holocaust. Human rights lessons should also be included in all levels of learning. When the lessons on the importance of human rights are not taught, the next generation will repeat the mistakes of the past generation. (Hahn, C. L. (2020).

In conclusion, the Holocaust experience taught the world many lessons about humanity. Important lessons include the danger of silence, the importance of standing up against evil, and the power of evil. From the Holocaust also declaration of human rights and the development of bioethics also came about. These lessons should be imparted to the next generation.



A Holocaust curriculum (no date) Life Unworthy of Life. Available at: (Accessed: October 12, 2022).

Hahn, C. L. (2020). Human rights teaching: Snapshots from four countries. Human Rights Education Review, 3(1), 8-30.

Levine, M. A., Wynia, M. K., Himber, M., & Silvers, W. S. (2019). Pertinent Today: What Contemporary Lessons Should be Taught by Studying Physician Participation in theHolocaust? Conatus-Journal of Philosophy, 4(2), 287-302.

Polgar, M. (2018). Holocaust and Human Rights Education: Good Choices and SociologicalPerspectives. Emerald Group Publishing.

Wolff, N. (2020). Severing a historical bond: The implications of divorcing human rights from holocaust education. Holocaust Studies, 26(3), 306-328.

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