My Husband loves to play Call of Duty on Xbox Live. When he is on there and he doesn’t have his headphones on, you can hear the trash talk from the players. Last night, I was amazed and appalled more than usual. These were kids, probably tweens or younger spouting anti-semitic jokes and comments rather than the usual sexual and racial ridiculousness. Then, as I was listening, a younger boy that had lead the Holocaust jokes, asked a timid question: “Do you really think the Holocaust happened?” One of the younger players answered him. “I don’t know. I guess.”
That really floored me. Growing up, we learned about the Holocaust and I never once questioned whether or not it really happened. What was the difference between my understanding of history and his? I’ve pondered this in the back of my head all night and this morning. Here is what I have come up with so far. Let me know what you think.
I was born in 1963. A lot of our teachers, parents, and grandparents either participated in the war or were old enough to have heard stories first hand. Some grew up watching the footage in the movie houses and heard reports on the radio. I personally know at least one man that was in France during WWII. I have heard horror stories from not only that war, but the “conflicts” since. We watched actual footage from the events and the movies we saw were stylized and did not show the gruesome realities of war. We knew the difference between the reality of war and movies.
What about today’s children? They are inundated with graphic images on a daily basis. From TV, movies, and video games. I looked up some pictures of the Holocaust and it struck me that in black and white, they could resemble actors from the Walking Dead. How confusing it must be for children to try to discern the horrific images and details of the Holocaust from the images they see on a daily basis. The numbers of the victims are difficult for adults to wrap their minds around, let alone children.
Survivors of the Holocaust are almost all gone now. Our WWII Veteran numbers are diminishing. The stories at the feet of people that lived these horrors are no more. Stories at the feet of our elders are pretty much gone altogether. Technology has replaced the quality time spent with our older relatives. We have lost so much with the technological advancements that were pushed for during the time period following WWII.
I don’t know how to make someone understand what is real and what isn’t in the world. This is how horrors of the Holocaust will be repeated in the future. Not that it will be forgotten, but it will be enveloped in the psyche of horror fantasy that are everyday images and just seen, not felt.
God forgive us all when that happens.