What is the legacy of the Holocaust?

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"After 60 years of Holocaust education, interfaith dialogue, human rights legislation and anti-racist programmes, anti-Semitism is still alive and endangering lives. It is not what it was in Germany. The virus has mutated. But the old myths, from the "blood libel" to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, are still the name. There can be no doubt as to the most successful ideology of modern times. Fascism came and went. Anti-Semitism came and stayed."

LEA ROSH, President, Association of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (Berlin)

"Auschwitz has been an integral part of my working life. I've made 25 to 30 films about the crimes of the Nazis and have had to go to Auschwitz several times to shoot a documentary. While my immediate family wasn't killed there, extended members died in other camps or were killed by the SS. I will never be able to get away from the idea of Auschwitz as the synonym for the horrible crimes of the Nazis."


"Auschwitz was an enormous and very modern killing factory. The gas chambers were industrialised mass murder. Modern firms created the gas and built the ovens. Modern planning saw to it that maximum profit was made from the slaughter. Auschwitz shows us the extremities of the pathological side of modernity. And it warns us where the demonisation of minorities or those labelled "undesirable" can lead in the hands of a ruthless modern state."


"I have always thought those of us who were born during the beginning of the war are culpable. We may not have known about the Holocaust but we were part of the generation during which it went on. Rwanda and Darfur show that we forget so quickly. Either that or things can escape us altogether. Growing up I was ignorant about what was happening in South Africa. People should know what is happening in their generation and we need to collectively share the guilt."

BERNARD CRICK, Political theorist

"It is a terrible reminder of the constantly recurring possibilities of man's inhumanity to man when driven by comprehensive and false ideologies - racism in that case. The lesson is that outside powers have to move in time to prevent massacres and other genocidal events, using force when necessary. I am full of amoral horror that recent events, such as Cambodia and Rwanda, were not prevented, or, in the case of the Balkans, that intervention came so late."

AMOS OZ, Writer And novelist

"I don't like the word Holocaust because it signifies a natural or divine event. It was the largest organised crime in history - and the crime begins with words. A language of hatred is a danger, not necessarily for Jews, but for whoever is targeted. Each time language is used like an axe we should act because soon killing will follow. There is a rise of fanaticism: Islamic, Jewish, European. It's American fundamentalism."

SHAMI CHAKRABARTI, Director of Liberty

"The word Auschwitz turns my stomach and conjures up an image of the camps and genocide. But when that sick feeling dies down, I reflect on the legacy paid for by the lives of the victims of Auschwitz and those who fought fascism. From this came the human rights framework enshrined in the UN Universal Declaration. It is our duty to remember Auschwitz and to cherish that legacy so that Auschwitz may never happen again."

TONY BENN, Former Labour cabinet minister

"The most important lesson of the Holocaust is that fear provides a power structure for political leaders. Hitler portrayed the Jews as the enemy and used it to instil fear and gain power. George Bush evokes the fear of terrorism and becomes a more powerful leader. The important thing moving forward is to look at history and understand. Only by seeing how such things develop can we be sure such atrocities will not happen again."

ARIEL SHARON, Israeli PM, speaking in the Knesset

"The Allies knew of the annihilation of the Jews and did nothing. Israel learnt that we can trust no one but ourselves. This phenomenon - of Jews defending themselves and fighting back - is an anathema [to] the new anti-Semites. Legitimate steps of self-defence which Israel takes in its war against Palestinian terror - actions which any sovereign state is obligated to undertake - are presented by those who hate Israel as aggressive, Nazi-like steps."

IRENE KHAN, Secretary general of Amnesty International

"There are countless failures to learn from Auschwitz evident in the modern world. We have failed to build a community of shared security and vulnerability. America's war on terror has polarised groups across the Arab world. The atrocities in Sudan show that, in the face of mass crimes against humanity, the international community is unable to find a mechanism to protect people."

CLIVE LAWTON, Jewish educator, writer and commentator

"First and foremost, Auschwitz is a graveyard and a horror. It stands for one of the worst excesses of human behaviour. The reason is because Auschwitz is a particular challenge for the West. We tend to think of genocide and massacres as savage acts where civilisation breaks down, but Auschwitz used state-of-the-art communications, technology, industrialisation, law and science to pervert morality."

FUAD AL-TAKARLI, Iraqi author

"The first thing is I think we should be talking about events in Iraq, the killing that is going on at the moment. For us as Arabs, the question is not about the legacy of the Holocaust. The UN divided Palestine in two, sonow our primary care is that Palestinians should have their own state. Arab writers usually avoid the Holocaust because we feel we will be resented in the West. This is a very sensitive issue for us to talk about."

URI AVNERY, Israeli peace activist

"The Holocaust overshadows everything the Israeli people think and do. Our attitude is conditioned by the Holocaust. It conditions Israel to justify any means because compared with the Holocaust any bad things we do are negligible by comparison. It is a standard of comparison which gives a kind of moral permit to do anything. In a way we are still victims of the Holocaust today but in a different way. It twists our outlook on things."

BIANCA JAGGER, Human rights campaigner

"Sixty years later the international community has not learnt the lessons of the Holocaust. I fear if we were to face again the scourge of genocide, the world would respond with the same lack of consistency and courage as in the past. Every time the international community fails to prevent genocide and refuses to make the perpetrators accountable, they put at stake international order and our principles of civilisation."

RABBI MICHAEL MELCHIOR, Deputy education minister, Israel

"No crime in history has been so documented as Auschwitz. But we have to teach Auschwitz in the right way, that when we deal with anti-Semitism we are also fighting for dignity for every human being ...We should have peace with the Palestinians and they should have a state sooner rather than later. But to link the [Israeli-Palestinian conflict] with the Holocaust, as is done by all sides in the debate, is also to trivialise the Holocaust."