Addressing the United Nations on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan remarked, "On occasions such as this, rhetoric comes easily. We rightly say 'never again.' But action is much harder. Since the Holocaust the world has, to its shame, failed more than once to prevent or halt genocide."
Following World War II, the international community cried "never again" in response to the Holocaust, and the newly formed United Nations adopted the Genocide Convention as a pledge to ensure that such horrors would never be repeated. Since that time, however, the world community has failed to prevent the occurrence of genocide in places like Cambodia, Northern Iraq, Bosnia, and Rwanda, prompting Paul Rusesabagina a survivor of the Rwandan genocide and subject of the film, Hotel Rwanda to assert, "The most abused words are 'never again.' When they were saying that in 1994, it was happening again and again and again and again. So 'never again' to me is not enough."
A decade after Rwanda, the international community failed to intervene decisively in Darfur to prevent another genocide from occurring. More than sixty years after the Holocaust, many question whether the world is doing enough to stop the violence.
Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, presents the Jewish community and its allies an opportunity each spring to both honor the six million Jews who perished during the Holocaust and to reflect on what can be done to prevent another genocide from occurring. In the spirit of Yom HaShoah, this issue of Curriculum Connections explores what the world has done to achieve the ideal of "never again" and why these efforts have fallen short of averting atrocities in places such as Rwanda and the Sudan.
The first two lessons in this unit designed for high school students introduce the concept of "never again" as a response to the Holocaust and highlight the one-man crusade by Raphael Lemkin a Polish, Jewish lawyer and Holocaust survivor to establish an international convention that would prevent and punish the crime of genocide. The second half of the unit examines the barriers that have thwarted the realization of "never again" since World War II, with a special emphasis on the crisis in Darfur.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, "Man's inhumanity to man is not only perpetrated by the vitriolic actions of those who are bad. It is also perpetrated by the vitiating inaction of those who are good." This issue of Curriculum Connections seeks to deepen students' understanding of the factors that have contributed to global unresponsiveness in the face of genocide, and to inspire them to take action in response to hatred of all kinds in the world.