A message repeated throughout the many museums and monuments of the Holocaust is that retelling its story is critical so as to prevent anything similar form happening again. I fully agree with the message and the sentiment; however, I feel that it ignores the many examples that have occurred between WWII and today. I will admit that determining what events should classify as genocide can be difficult; however, below are examples of others that could be included:
- Soon after WWII in 1947, the partition of India, in which a newly formed border was created separating the Hindus and Sikhs, resulted in 500,000 to 1,000,000 dead because they were on the wrong side of that border.
- In Australia, between 1900 and 1970, twenty to twenty-five thousand Aboriginal children were taken from their homes and separated from their families. Some now call them the “Stolen Generation.” (As a side note, the way that Native Americans were treated when European first settled in North America can also be interpreted as genocide.)
- In Pakistan, during the Bangladesh War in 1971, there are estimates ranging from 300,000 to 3 million people killed by the Pakistan Army. Targeted during this killing include the Bengali intellectual, cultural, and political elite along with Hindus.
- The Rwanda genocide in 1994 is estimated to have killed 800,000 people. This genocide, lasting 100 days, was performed by the Hutu militias against Tutsis and pro-peace Hutus.
- The first president of Equatorial Guinea, Francisco Macias Nguema, killed or exiled up to 1/3 of the country’s population (80,000 out of 300,000 are estimated to have been killed).
- The Khmer Rouge from Cambodia, whom I commented on in an early entry, are responsible for killing about 1.7 million Cambodians between 1975 and 1979.
- Indonesian occupation of East Timor resulted in approximately 100,000 deaths between 1974 and 1999. Many of deaths resulted from malnutrition and it is rumored that the Indonesian military used starvation as its main tool of “exterminating” the East Timorese.
These are only a handful of examples of mass killings that have occurred since the events that took place in and around Germany under the Nazi regime. I agree that the history of the Holocaust should be retold to try to prevent it in the future; however, I also feel we need to try to recognize its signs and instead of learning about how it affected history, learn how it can be prevented in the future.
In addition, most museums I visited did not recall other examples of mass killings and I feel when the take-away message is to prevent something similar form happening again, explaining that it already has will only help emphasize the point.