Can Haunting Memories Lead Us to a Different Future?

Child survivors at Auschwitz. Photo courtesy of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Child survivors at Auschwitz.
Photo courtesy of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

It's rare I use this forum to talk about something other than the core of Ethos' work, but I cannot get my mind off of what is simply being called "Auschwitz 70."

For those who may have missed the media reports of the last few days, January 27, 2015 was the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. The death camp, which was fifteen square miles, was the site on which approximately one million Jews and a hundred thousand disabled people, homosexuals, dissidents, non-Jewish Poles, and Soviet prisoners were killed between 1940 and 1945. Yesterday, in a ceremony to mark the camp's liberation, around 300 Auschwitz survivors returned to the site, united in a single thought - their past should not become their children's futures.

I am chilled to my core when I consider the horrors that humans can inflict on each other. Auschwitz stands as one of the most haunting examples of those horrors, but there are other examples created in our world on a daily basis. While I know some who inflict the damage are not haunted by their memories of it, I think many (perhaps even most) are, and I hope that when any of us hurts another person (in big or small ways), we will let our consciences be seared by the haunting memories of the pain we have caused. Not so that we can wallow in the guilt, but so we can commit to a different future.

If you have a few minutes, take a look at this video produced by the BBC. It's Auschwitz today, but you can easily envision the trains riding the rails into Auschwitz, the separation of family and friends as they were sorted into "hard labor" or "gas chamber," and the putrid and cramped conditions those who were "lucky" lived in during their time there.

Becky