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Remembering Auschwitz

“Never again.”

These two simple words united the world in the wake of the Holocaust. It was a promise to past and future generations that we would ensure the horrors of the “greatest crime in history” would not be repeated.

This week marked the 70-year anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. But in the past seventy years, what have we learned?

After these many years, you’d think we’d have evolved to a point where we no longer engage in genocides, mass murders, or flagrant violations of international law. But we do.

More than five million Congolese lost their lives after the Democratic Republic of the Congo was invaded and occupied by Uganda's army in 1997. The Rwandan Genocide was the mass murder in 1994 of an estimated 800,000 people. In the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the three-year war between the Serbs, Croats, and Muslims resulted in mass genocide. The devastation prompted U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke to call the conflict, “the greatest failure of the West since the 1930s.”

The Killing Fields of Cambodia, Partition of India, Stalinist Russia, The Cultural Revolution in China, North Korea, Darfur, Syria. These acts of genocide happened after World War II, proof the world has remembered little since the Holocaust.

If you want to honor the memory of the prisoners of Auschwitz, you must speak out whenever and wherever hate, oppression, or annihilation threatens the lives of innocent human beings. Lobby your governments to make humanitarian and moral considerations a precedent over economic and political interests in the fight against global terrorism and crimes against humanity.

The two words that united the world should remain our rallying cry today.  As spoken by Piotr Cywiński, director of the Auschwitz memorial at Tuesday’s ceremony,

“'Never again' is not a political program, but a personal decision. It means, never again because of me, never again in me, never again with me. I believe that never again rests with all of us.”