Today is the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. It is a day designated by the UN as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. A day to honor the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and millions of other victims of Nazi atrocities. A day to stop and consider the enormity of what happened. A day to remind us that we must do better.
The phrase “never again” came to represent this need to do better. At this moment in history, we are faced with the reality that “never again” rings hollow and that the memory of the millions who were murdered is not being honored. How can we say “never again” when genocides, crimes against humanity, and acts of antisemitism continue decades after Auschwitz was liberated in 1945? So instead we say, never forget, but what does that mean?
There is much debate about what lessons we can teach using the Holocaust as a case study. The Holocaust is the best-documented case of state led genocide in history. We have millions of pages of government records, photographs, individual correspondence, newspaper articles, and so much more. We can listen to the testimony of survivors and rescuers, read the words of perpetrators and bystanders. There are textbooks, diaries, and even graphic novels that help us unpack the stories and keep the memory alive. While remembering has its place, there is still more to do.
The motto moving forward should be Educate for Change. Let me explain what that means to me.
The Stan Greenspon Center exists to keep the legacy of Holocaust survivors alive. We tell their stories, we celebrate their lives, we mourn their losses. But we don’t stop there. Our mission goes beyond preserving memories. We educate students and adults not only about the atrocities that occurred but, more importantly, how they could have been prevented. We ask people to consider, informed by the memory of the Holocaust, the impact of their actions on those around them.
Today we face a global rise in antisemitism. Recent polls show that memory of the Holocaust is fading for many young Americans. With a deep belief that we can Educate for Change, the Greenspon Center offers a variety of programs for schools and community groups.
We are pleased to announce the creation of a new Holocaust Pedagogy Certificate Program. Graduates of this program will be equipped to confidently educate others about the dangers of antisemitism and racism. They will develop an enhanced understanding of the interrelated events of the Holocaust, especially the intersections between events, geographies, and individual and political relationships. Participants will gain a working knowledge of avenues for social and civic engagement. They will work proactively to build more understanding and supportive communities.
Our goal is to put “never again” into action through transformative education. Please join us on this journey.