It is difficult to grasp the six million lives that were lost in the Holocaust. But German children also have to come to terms with the fact that those who committed these atrocities were members of their families and communities. One German woman writes of her experience grappling with learning about the Holocaust as a German child: “The Holocaust was horrible, and I think as a country, we have the responsibility not to forget about it and also to do what we can to let something like that never happen again. But personally I think I am not different from any other person on this planet: able to do the best and the worst. And it is my own responsibility what I make of that; for that, it doesn’t matter what my grandfather has or has not done. Of course it would be nice to have ancestors I could be simply proud of, but in the end, who can? Every country has dark spots in history; ours just happen to be huge and pretty recent.” Read more.
Do you agree with this student’s perspective? Or do you feel responsible for slavery or other atrocities that the U.S. Government inflicted, such as the WWII Japanese internment camps? The Jewish tradition teaches that the Passover story of being freed from slavery is one that every Jew experiences. But why is it, when it comes to causing others suffering, we no longer take responsibility? Is it enough to only be responsible for the present? And, if so, are we responsible enough given the suffering still going on in the world? Where do you feel your responsibility begins and ends?