Many adults seem exasperated by the “typical” millennial attitude, and our tendency to disregard problems that do not directly impact our own lives. We have been dubbed “Generation ADD” and “The Selfie Generation” by those who do not believe we are capable of being the future movers and shapers of society.
However, in the next decade or so, one incredibly important responsibility will fall upon our shoulders: keeping the memory of the atrocities of the Holocaust alive.
It’s not an easy period of history to recall, whether you are Jewish, German, or of any other cultural background. But the reality is, there will come a time when those who actually lived through these events are no longer with us. It is not unlikely that my own children will never meet a Holocaust survivor.
I have had the chance to meet, speak with, and even befriend several survivors. They are members of my family and close family friends. It has become clear to me that it will become my generation’s duty to carry on these men and women’s stories, and I believe that it is a task we can handle with respect and creativity.
Current teenagers are undoubtedly some of the most tolerant, open-minded thinkers of all time. The same Buzzfeed article that referred to our generation as “Generation ADD” labeled us “The Tolerant Generation.” We want peace and acceptance, so we must understand that, in order to achieve harmony, we must remind ourselves and our children about the tribulations of our past. This is not to say that each and every American young person is liberal-minded and unbiased, but we have had the advantage of living in a time when, at least now more than ever, being gay is accepted, having one’s own beliefs is tolerated, and the color of one’s skin does not automatically determine a person’s role in society.
It is not only the Jewish population that must recall this time. German children are required to study the Holocaust in school, and they visit museums and watch films on the topic. Young people in America are exposed to the Holocaust in classrooms, and resources about this subject are readily available.
Surprisingly, our connection with social media may help keep this flame kindled, for far more than eight nights, years or even decades. Each year, I have been able to post on my social media pages on the anniversaries of monumental dates from the Holocaust, reminding those in my personal circle about the horrors of the Holocaust. Hashtags such as #neverforget circulate the internet. On this note, the 100 year anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and the end of the war will occur in 2045, when present teenagers are the parents and major presences of society. When Holocaust survivors are no longer alive to share their tragic stories, it will be our obligation to share their stories and ideals.
We must accept this mission and ensure that we prevent history from repeating during our lifetime, or the lifetimes of our children, and their children. Anne Frank’s diary must remain a staple in schools, as it plays such an important role on educating young people about the monstrosity of the Holocaust, and making us feel connected to the events that transpired. Just this year, a new German film based Frank’s diary premiered at the Berlin Film Festival, and Variety says that it is a “compassionate and intelligently made contribution to the ever-growing body of work on the subject.” Art about the Holocaust must be continually produced, as it makes knowledge about the topic accessible to almost everyone. Young people are fully capable of creatively sharing more stories about the Holocaust in the forms of literature and writing, plays, songs, poems, and films. We can continue exposing the subject, and we must. We should not leave the teaching to a chapter in a history textbook.
Next time you have the opportunity to hear a Holocaust survivor speak, listen to them. If a play about the subject is playing at a local theatre, go see it. Visit museums, read books. Anne Frank, the Holocaust figure with whom I feel most teenagers identify most, said “how wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”