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The duty to remember

Recent surveys about how first time voters voted in the elections show something alarming: more than half of them chose far-right or far-right adjacent parties. Contrary to the stereotypes, it seems the new generation is a lot more conservative and close-minded than older generations.

I’ve been asking myself: how come? Did they learn nothing from their history lessons? How are they falling so easily for fascist rhetoric? One reason might be because what they learned in history class feel far removed, like something which silly old people did a long time ago and which has no relevance to the modern day. But it wasn’t even that long ago.

Those of the millennial and older generations are more likely to have grown up hearing about WWII from our parents, grand-parents or great-grandparents.
I remember my own great-grandparents, who lived in the house right behind our own. I remember how great-granpa use to stockpile food for the event of war, how he had built a bomb shelter under our houses and how he made sure we kids all knew how to enter and hide in it. I also remember that we never put tomato sauce or ketchup on our food when great-grandma ate with us because it reminded her of blood and could trigger a PTSD flashback.
Neither of them ever spoke about the violence they had witnessed and endured, but it was obvious to us all that their traumas were real.

We also knew people who had been in concentration camps. The pain in their eyes and in their voices as they spoke of what they had been through was heart wrenching and it did more to sensitise us to the dangers of fascism than any history book ever did.

But most of the people I knew who had been through the horrors of WWII passed away in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Few people who can tell us about the massacres, the bombings, the camps are still alive today. Soon, there will be none left. With these newest generations already forgetting, it is more important than ever to make sure the stories keep being told.

Anne Frank. Her famous diary is one of the witness accounts of the Nazi persecution of Jews.

We should do all we can to preserve and spread the many biographies, video and radio interviews, documentaries and historical documentation that are witnesses to what fascism leads to when taken to its logical conclusion. People, and especially the younger generations, need to hear about it and how it affected the lives of real human beings.

Because politics isn’t just about abstract ideas and who you vote for isn’t some inconsequential thing like who your favorite sports team is. That’s why it irks me when people say things like ”Just because we disagree politically, doesn’t mean we can’t be friends”. If your politics kill people, then fuck no we can’t be friends.

No matter how you feel about it, the political is personal and vice versa. People have and still do pay with their lives for the political sins of others. There are many stories that prove this and we can never let them be forgotten. Keep gathering them and repeating them. Keep fighting to make sure the unthinkable never happens again.


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