Auschwitz lesson

It is sixty years since Russian troops liberated Auschwitz, the largest of the Nazi death camps in northern Europe. Almost six million people, most of them Jews were killed in such camps by Hitler’s men. Apart from saving thousands from starvation, gas chambers and certain death, the liberation of Auschwitz on January 27, 1945, also marked the symbolic end of Hitler’s downfall and one of the most stark episodes of barbarity man ever perpetrated against mankind. If the date evokes historical significance each year, this anniversary is particularly a special one as time is likely to take toll on the number of survivors who will return to the next commemorative event, held every 10 years. In other words, each successive generation is likely to push back the memories of World War II Nazi atrocities that much further. That is a cause for serious concern. It was too heavy a price the mankind paid to learn how man could evolve to be its own nem-esis. At all cost, historical amnesia must not be allowed to set in.

But this anniversary must also be an occasion to chart a new course for those countries, organisations and alliances struggling to prevent xenophobia in different parts of the world. That, however, is not to give license to the belligerent ones to push their singular agenda forward in the garb of global security. The lesson ethnic cleansing in former Yugoslavia offered in the mid-nineties are still fresh, even if slightly forgotten. Though the scale of Milosevic’s and Karadzic’s atrocities was no match for that of the Nazis, the intensity of the hate campaign were no less damaging. Even more gory was the Hutu-led brutal slaughter of Tutsis in Rwanda. Ironically, the UN, the very organisation that was conceptualised on the premise of preventing the future episodes of the Holocausts, sat idle over a Rwanda even when its rivers were choked with dead bodies. The anniversary of Auschwitz liberation, therefore, is a moment to hearken at history and take as an inspiration for building a better future.

As a mandated organisation to stop another Rwanda in the making, the UN in the years to come has a greater role to play than any other country or organisation. But in the six decades since its establishment, the blue helmets have not always been able to stop such acts of barbarity in various trouble spots aro-und the globe. As Auschwitz reminds all of the vulnerability of mankind, the UN’s role must surely be a revitalised one to avert or even pre-empt possible debacles arising out of ethnic cleansing or genocides in future. The immediate effort that it must spearhead to set things right awaits Darfur in Sudan. This anniversary is one poignant moment to pause and evaluate the mankind’s past follies that can be prevented in future.