I am challenged on this day, International Holocaust Rememberance Day, to explain exactly what the world promised when it swore “Never again!” in the wake of the realisation of the horrors of the Holocaust, ended only by the defeat of Germany at the conclusion of World War II.
“Never again” what?
What will we never do again?
It is abundantly clear to me we are only too happy to repeat the previously unforgiveable mistakes of the German citizens who had no affection for Hitler or the National Socialist German Workers’ Party: Nazis.
I’m horrified that we have forgotten what so quickly.
The phrase “never again” is frequently diluted & its necessary power eroded by its appropriation for much less significant causes. Perhaps some may be worthy in their own right, but what event since the advent of social media doesn’t pale in comparison to the sheer weight of human lives slaughtered by just one of history’s many megolomaniacal ideologies?
Beyond extraordinarily ignorant, it’s immensely offensive that the phrase might be used in the wake of a school shooting to advocate gun control, precisely the policy of the Nazi party.
In 1938, Hitler signed a new Gun Control Act.
The German Jews were ordered to surrender all their weapons, and the police had the records on all who had registered them. Even those who gave up their weapons voluntarily were turned over to the Gestapo.
This took place in the weeks before what became known as the Night of the Broken Glass, or Kristallnacht, occurred in November 1938. That the Jews were disarmed before it, minimizing any risk of resistance, is the strongest evidence that the pogrom was planned in advance.
“Never again” what?
On the topic of dilution of meaning and erosion of important meanings, the radical left have appropriated the word “Nazi” to serve their own fascistic agendas. They accuse anyone who disagrees with their extremism as being “Nazis”, and “literally Hitler”, then justifying lawless acts of violence against their targets.
How can we remain ever vigilant against the kind of evil excesses and abuses of governmental authority Nazis personified when perfectly traditional, liberal views such as sensible immigration policies and national sovereignty are lumped into the same basket of deplorables as genocidal authoritarian regimes? All that unfortunately does is make Nazis seem normal instead of conservatives seem evil, and that is a great disservice to the vigilance required to ensure, “Never again.”
Nipping fascism in the bud is the necessary defence against becoming the next nation to unwittingly comfort illiberal tyranny.
No German was ever asked to vote for the holocaust, or even internment camps. Nazi tyranny began with the appearance of democracy, the excuse of a national emergency, and the cooperation of the nation with demands by the political leaders for unusual powers to “save” Germany from an enemy made larger than life by government propaganda.
The 1933 Reichstag fire was just the excuse they were looking for to give the president dictatorial powers. They soon expanded further, and in a pleasant and benevolent-sounding law called the Decree for the Protection of the People and the State, God-given, constitutional freedom of assembly, freedom of the press and freedom of speech were suspended within Germany.
If we really meant it when we said, “Never again”, we would never countenance gullibly trusting government with even “temporarily” suspending the natural rights of every last one of our citizens, residents and visitors, no matter the “emergency” or propagandised “greater good”.
Today I remember and mourn the more than 6 million lives cruelly tortured and slain by an evil political agenda, enabled by the blissfully ignorant citizens which preferred safety to liberty.
Government’s purpose is to protect God-given freedoms: first of all life, and then liberty. Essential ingredients to liberty are freedom of belief and speech, as well as association and assembly. Also necessary to the pursuit of happiness are the freedom of trade/commerce and movement, private property and self defence.
No tyranny can long withstand a virtuous people who value liberty above safety.
No democracy can long withstand a cowardly people who allow a government of any character to diminish the freedoms it was sworn to uphold in exchange for a promise of safety from a magnified threat.
“Never again” what?
Never again will we allow the ratcheted expansion of government authority at the expense of civil liberty, God-given freedoms and natural rights. Though the abuse of such concentrated power be unforeseeable without the benefit of hindsight, we now have that history to instruct us and we solemnly take this oath: NEVER AGAIN.
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Dave Pellowe is a Christian writer & commentator, founder of The Good Sauce, convener of the annual Australian Church And State Summit and host of Good Sauce's weekly The Church And State Show, also syndicated on ADH TV. Since 2016 Dave has undertaken the mission of arming Christians to influence culture through events from Perth to Auckland, videos, podcasts and articles published in multiple journals across Australia and New Zealand. [more]