By Deborah Brown
On Sunday, Oct. 14, I was part of a group of 18 students from the College Park Scholars Justice and Legal Thought program who went to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. We left in the morning and returned after noon, which was plenty of time to walk through the museum’s main four-floor exhibit and a few smaller exhibits.
We went to explore different notions of justice. Brian Sarginger, the Justice and Legal Thought staff chaperone, said that the Holocaust is an example of how justice can sometimes come into conflict with the law. “Everything done there [in the Holocaust] was legal, but we intuitively realize that it was unjust,” he said.
One of the goals of this Scholars program at this university is to help students become activists for justice in all parts of our lives. This visit highlighted ways we can do that anytime we see injustice around us. The Holocaust is obviously an extreme example, but we can learn a lot from the people who stood up against it.
For me, this trip emphasized the importance of justice. Visiting the Holocaust Museum is powerful in and of itself because of its message—never forget.
The Holocaust happened nearly 80 years ago. Most of the survivors have passed away, and we are the last generation to be able to meet the remaining ones. After they pass on, there will be no more eyewitness accounts or personal stories. All our memories of the Holocaust will be from books, quotations and history.
It is our responsibility, as today’s youth and the world’s future, to continue to remember the atrocities that occurred. We need to live with the responsibility of remembering the injustice so that we don’t allow anything like it to happen again.
A handful of the students on our trip to the museum were Jewish, but the majority weren’t. The Holocaust isn’t just something that affected European Jews. It affected all of humanity, and all of the ideas of justice that modern society held. We must not allow ourselves to forget how it happened, or to block it out of our minds because of how terrible it was. In fact, we must do the opposite—we need to remember the injustice of the Holocaust and prevent it from ever happening again.
We should all try to visit the Holocaust Museum, or speak to survivors or at the very least read stories about the Holocaust. It’s the very least we can do to ensure justice is secured for all people.