Terrified, a little girl remembers nightmares of gas chambers and screaming babies as the blaring siren cuts through the air like a knife. No one spoke but the silence brought on by fear was deafening. The ringing stops, and the world continues to go on, but the memory of the Holocaust continues to haunt her.
Seeking assurance, she asks her mother, “Do you think that the Holocaust can happen again?”
But the truth of humanity’s often fragile moral standards are still unknown to the child, so her mother replies, “If it happened in the past, it can happen to the future again.”
In these childhood fears, Hadass Nisan found the inspiration to pursue a career in diplomacy. With the terrifying possibility of another genocide in the future, the original question changes and the now Deputy Chief of Mission for the Embassy of Israel asks her Thomasian audience,”How should we educate for a better future?”
A brainchild of both the UST History Society and the United Nations Information Center, the Holocaust Remembrance 2017 currently features an exhibit in the Civil Law Lobby and takes the visitor into a glimpse into the dark, turbulent years of Judean persecution that happened between the two world wars.
In a film showing last Friday, the Path to Nazi Genocide illustrated the events that transpired before the Holocaust. After losing World War I, Germany was crippled with debt and struggled to keep its economy afloat. The Treaty of Versailles did not only fine Germany 132 billion gold marks, but also made the country take the blame for the war, fueling the anger of its people which took years before they found an outlet. When Adolf Hitler came to power, he was in the peak of national turbulence and exploited it to manipulate his countrymen into fulfilling his plans of Jewish eradication and racial purity. Understanding the events that transpired before the Holocaust is just as vital as knowing the casualties it brought. Even Hadass Nisan, who is a Jew descended from Holocaust survivors, tries to find it in herself to forgive but not to forget.
“Never again,” Nisan declares, “Never again will the community of nations sit idly by while an entire people, an entire state, an entire race is exterminated out of a misguided and inflated sense of racial superiority.”
When the Soviet Union army and American troops found the concentration camps in Eastern Europe, it threw the world into a widespread disbelief. A turning point in history, the Holocaust is remembered every 27th day of January internationally and every May 5th in Israel where a siren rings for a two minute silence while the country is at a standstill.
Discovered just a few weeks ago, the Embassy of Israel informed the gathered students in the Civil Law Auditorium of a young Filipino student who started a protest against Germany during the aftermath of the Kristallnacht or the “Night of the Broken Glass”.
In a time when everybody refused the fleeing German Jews entry to their country, former president Manuel L. Quezon allowed them to be relocated in the Philippines, saving whole families that could have been wiped out entirely. The Filipino feat of sympathizing with people on the other side of the world is further perceived in the actions of former president Elpidio Quirino who instructed Carlos Romulo, then the country’s representative to the United Nations, to give the deciding vote to create the state of Israel. In fact, a group of Holocaust survivors, who sought refuge in the Philippines, made a sentimental visit seventy years later to thank and commemorate the actions of President Quirino.– Xave Gregorio