History Teaches Us Nothing | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 27, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, January 27, 2017

History Teaches Us Nothing

27th January, 1945. Victorious Soviet troops entered into a deserted and destroyed the Polish town Auschwitz. While advancing through town, they discovered a horrific incident which was deemed unbelievable by the rest of the world. It was the site of the Auschwitz concentration camp, a large industrial complex designed to kill Jews, gypsies, homosexuals and prisoners of war captured from all over German occupied Europe. The prison complex consisted of thousands of dungeons. There were work camps, where prisoners were worked to death. There were medical research facilities where prisoners were treated as guinea pigs for fatal experiments. There were gas chambers where thousands of inmates, who were too weak to work, were killed by showering poisonous gas on them. Then, before cremating the corpses in a massive crematoria, hair and teeth were systematically removed for the industrial production of fabrics, cushions and upholsters.         

After the war was over, the allied forces defended their failure to launch raid on this concentration camp by stating that they thought the stories of concentration camps were Soviet propaganda. From 1940 to 1945, 1.1 million inmates of Auschwitz were killed. The handful of the survivors had to fight severe trauma and emotional disorders for the rest of their lives. Like Auschwitz, Nazi Germany established around 20,000 concentration camps between 1933 and 1945 and at least 11,000,000 people were killed by that evil regime. Among these camps, Auschwitz was the largest and this is why 27th January, the day when Auschwitz was liberated is commemorated every year as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The UN General Assembly Resolution 60/7 rejects holocaust denial as an event and condemns all forms of religious intolerance and violence against person or community based on ethnic origin or religious belief. 

However, such large scale atrocities in recent history and UN's condemnation could not stop the nation states to indulge in more genocides, mass murders and brutal warfare. Within less than thirty years, the Pakistan army launched marauding raids on Bengalis and killed 3 million people in 1971 which is still considered the largest event of genocide after the Second World War. Despite protests from all over the world, the UN failed to take any initiative to stop the atrocities. On the other hand, USA and China, the two major powers of the allied forces during the Second World War, blatantly supported Pakistan army's raid against the unarmed Bengalis. In the end, Pakistani army officers who planned and committed the atrocities never faced any trial for their crimes against humanity. 

The violence against the Rohingya community in Myanmar since 1974 is also another symbol of humanity's failure to take lessons from the holocaust. Some months ago, when the massacre on the Rohingya people escalated to an unprecedented scale, the world's major powers did almost nothing to stop the massacre. In fact, the former UN chief Kofi Annan refused to use the word “genocide” to describe the Rohingya crisis. However, the news published in the global media regarding the crisis was enough to prove that every aspect of the Rohingya crisis coincides with the definition of 'genocide' adopted by Article II of the International Criminal Court.

Even more ironical is the fact that the once major victim of the holocaust has been threatening the world with another form of ethnic cleansing. Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of the Jewish state of Israel firmly says, “What I am willing to give Palestinians is not exactly a state with full authority, rather a state minus.” 

Besides continuous conflicts, people are doomed to witness that the devastating ideology of radicalism and exclusion that led the world to the Second World War is triumphant again in every corner of the world. The United Kingdom's exit from the European Union to take back control over European politics, Trump's hard-line nationalistic policies, rise of extremism and restitution of dictatorship in the Middle East and North Africa have already signalled the end of the new world order. The new world order that promised free trade, globalisation, democracy and liberalism after the Second World War has died a premature death. And, it proves that we have failed to take any lesson from a tragic history. 

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