The silent Holocaust

By Herman Labuschagne

I paged through scores of pictures tonight and felt a slow resentment towards the laughing eyes who killed so many. Yet, let it never be said that the Holocaust was a German invention. It is not. It was bigger than that by far. The Holocaust was an invention of human nature. 

When circumstances arise which take away the threat of punishment for doing wrong - a large percentage of people from every possible association will choose to do wrong - every single time. And they will choose to do so wild abandon and in ways that even they themselves would not believe in advance.

Image from the Warsow ghetto uprising.

Indeed, holocausts were not only conducted by the Germans. The Russians demonstrated it in their violent revolution and numerous ethnic cleansings; the Chinese with their bloody Communist Revolution; the Cambodians, the murdering psychopaths of Uganda and the butchers of the Congo which were first conducted by Europeans, and later by the indigenous population.

But those are far-off nations, you say. It might surprise you that even the champions of fair play - the British - had their turn, with over 27,000 women and children casualties in the Boer War concentration camps, plus a huge number of black women and children, the numbers of which were never recorded. 

I maintain that the name Holocaust does not merely represent 6 million Jews. It represents the more than 170 million people that were slaughtered in this last century alone - and that excludes warfare entirely. 

Read the figure again slowly and try to imagine yourself, all your friends and family - all the people you have ever met in your entire life - and all those your parents, grandparents and great-grandparents met in their lives combined. Not even that enormous number is anything near the figure that has died within three generations alone. 

You may notice, with relief, that I did not mention the United States. But almost no nation stands untouched. In the 40 years since I was born, Americans have murdered over 57 million unborn children. That is nearly 10 times the number of Jews that were killed. And we would throw stones at the Nazis, I ask myself? 

And just before we from the nations I have not mentioned yet should pause to gloat, let me remind myself and all of us that since 1980 when I first went to school, 1,2 billion children have been likewise murdered world-wide. That's billion with a "B". And they came from your country and my country - so that the blood of their uniquely innocent lives cries out from every country on this planet. 

Think about these figures - then tell me that there is not a Nazi within most of us... 


Arrival of Hungarian Jews at Auchwitz concentration camp.


Humanity cannot point fingers too much. The fact is that the spirit of murder is inherent within human nature. From century to century holocausts are conducted by the most unlikely of peoples at the most unexpected moments. Uncivilized and highly civilized nations equally carried away by the evil tide when it arises.

When all the worst extremes are suddenly allowed by man - it is only the deeply ingrained sense of self-restraint within each man and woman which can prevent them from choosing to do wrong. The little voice inside us that whispers to us when we are contemplating evil. And the will inside us that chooses to do good in stead. This is called character.

Character is based on the principles of God, regardless of whether people even know it or not - or even know God's name. These principles of character are seldom taught in schools anymore. And one day we, who made those rules in the name of liberty may still live to regret it. 

No-one should be overly surprised if we should live to see another holocaust in our own generation yet. For indeed, we are carrying the seeds of the next one within us already. 

Today we would do well to mourn the loss and think respectfully of 6 million Jews who died. And we would do well think about the future too. 

There are times when governments, lawmakers and even our own peers and neighbours will assure us that that evil is good and good is evil. It is already happening. So while we think about the holocaust today we may do well to decide now already, how we will choose when evil becomes perfectly allowed.