Recently, the world commemorated the liberation of Auschwitz on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
It was, among other things, an unsettling reminder of the horrors committed during the Second World War.
The Nazi regime’s commitment to the liquidation of all world Jewry ultimately failed, of course. But the "Final Solution" nevertheless ripped apart families, and left tens of millions of people dead, many of whom were never found or identified.
Bearing that in mind, today is another solemn occasion to remember. Seventy years ago, the Nazi death camp Dachau was liberated by US service members – a prison-turned-concentration-camp wherein, according to the president of the United States, some 40,000 human beings perished and another 200,000 were imprisoned.
“On this day, we remember when American forces liberated Dachau 70 years ago, dismantling the first concentration camp established by the Nazi regime,” he said in a statement today. “Dachau is a lesson in the evolution of darkness, how unchecked intolerance and hatred spiral out of control.”
“From its sinister inception in 1933, Dachau held political prisoners – opponents of the Third Reich,” he continued. “It became the prototype for Nazi concentration camps and the training ground for Schutzstaffel (SS) camp guards. As the seed of Nazi evil grew, the camp swelled with thousands of others across Europe targeted by the Nazis, including Jews, other religious sects, Sinti, Roma, LGBT persons, the disabled, and those deemed asocial.”
Grotesquely, it was also the site of grisly experiments and slave labor. And indeed, as the president went on to explain, Allied soldiers who witnessed the devastation were never the same again.
“Drawing from the words of Captain Timothy Brennan, who wrote to his wife and child after liberating the camp - 'You cannot imagine that such things exist in a civilized world' – we fervently vow that such atrocities will never happen again,” he said.
“History," he added, "will not repeat itself.”