Originally Published: April 20, 2009 11:32 a.m.
The "Days of Remembrance," which the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Prescott is sponsoring tonight, April 20, at the Yavapai College Performance Hall, brought this to my mind.
It is the general term for the genocide of approximately six million European Jews during World War II, as part of a program of deliberate and systematic state-sponsored extermination that Nazi Germany planned and executed under Adolf Hitler.
Sadly we read about people who attempt to re-write history, denying it ever happened. The most recent or most notable is Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
In light of this, one has to wonder 'what are they (or is he) thinking?'
Some scholars limit the term 'Holocaust' to only the Jewish victims. For example, according to Dictionary.com, the word's definition are:
1. a great or complete devastation or destruction, esp. by fire.
2. a sacrifice completely consumed by fire; burnt offering.
3. (usually initial capital letter) the systematic mass slaughter of European Jews in Nazi concentration camps during World War II (usually prec. by the).
4. any mass slaughter or reckless destruction of life.
So, if it's capitalized it's all about the Jews.
I think, considering the term - in use since the 18th century - has meant persecution, slaughter and/or genocide of anyone, we should include the Nazis' systematic murder of other groups including ethnic Poles, the Romani, Soviet civilians, Soviet prisoners of war, the disabled, homosexual men and political and religious opponents.
For 'Holocaust' that would bring the number of deaths to between 11 million and 17 million people - not only Jews, but all genocide of World War II.
This is not an attempt to take anything away from the Jews; it is to never forget the scope and impact of the Nazis' effort, arguably the most racist campaign in history.
What do you think?