The FMU Multicultural Advisory Board hosted an International Holocaust Remembrance Day event on Wednesday, Jan. 24, with guest speaker Marlene Roth from the Columbia Education Commission.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day was created in November 2005 by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
UNGA selected Jan. 24 because this date commemorates the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest German concentration camp, on Jan. 27, 1945.
Roth, a native of Philadelphia, Pa., taught secondary English for seven years before she moved to Israel for four years. After her return to the U.S., Roth earned her master’s degree in Holocaust and genocide studies in 2001. Roth now serves as treasurer of the South Carolina Council on the Holocaust Teacher Advisory Committee.
According to the United State Holocaust Memorial Museum website, the Holocaust began when Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany on Jan. 30, 1933. Over the course of Hitler’s reign of Nazi Germany, he became responsible for the largest genocide in human history, killing a total of nearly seven million people.
By definition from the UN Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect, genocide is the intentional killing or causing serious bodily harm to a national, ethical, racial or religious group.
“Why did he pick on the Jews?” Roth said. “Why didn’t he pick on other people, which he did, but it was only the Jews that he wanted to murder wholesale.”
Roth said people were resentful of Jews because they were the supposed chosen people, would not convert to Christianity and would not work on the Sabbath day.
According to Roth, people were taught the Jews were “Jesus killers,” had horns and participated in blood libel. Blood libel is the accusation that Jews kidnapped and murdered Christian children for their blood as part of ritual during Jewish holidays, particularly Passover.
Roth said Hitler wanted a superior race of blonde hair, blue eyed people called the Aryan race. She said such a race does not exist because Aryan is only a language.
“You have to breed out the bad seeds to get the master race you want,” Roth said. “This is what he wanted. He was very smart in what he did.”
Roth said Hitler had hundreds of solders put propaganda in many cities to ensure the German people knew the Jews were comparable to vermin. The soldiers wrote books, published articles, placed flyers and taught Hitler’s beliefs in schools to spread his ideas.
According to Roth, not only were Jews victims of the Holocaust, but gypsies and twins were also experimented on and killed. Homosexual men were also encamped because Hitler believed they could be rehabilitated. Jehovah’s witnesses and political prisoners were also captured and sent to camps.
Roth said throughout the Holocaust, Jews went into hiding to avoid being forced into ghettos or transported to concentration camps by Nazi soldiers.