The Courage to Remember





The Courage to Remember

By Ashley Bennett

May 4, 2012



The Holocaust is the single most terrifying event of our past. While history is littered with major genocides, none of them compare to the suffering caused and murders committed by the Nazi party during World War II. It’s been over sixty years since that event and with the hope to prevent other genocides such as this, an annual “Day of Remembrance” is recognized not only to teach and inform but also to prevent humanity from repeating such an event.


On Monday, April 30 Cal State San Bernardino celebrated the opening of an exhibit on display in the Pfau Library entitled The Courage to Remember. Famous photographs of Holocaust suffering alongside facts and quotes were printed on large canvases and labeled by page, over forty in all. As if ripped from a large book, each canvas informs about the history and beginning of Holocaust in 1933 and ending with Jewish victims who survived to start life anew post-World War II.  Throughout these pages are bold photos exhibiting various ill-treatments towards the Jews. Nothing is more powerful than seeing a photograph of a man standing amidst the bodies of his fellow friends or family with a soldier pointing a gun to his head. This image is simply captioned “Mass Execution.”


This exhibit travels from place to place but originated in the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. All of the information on these canvases can be viewed online in their entirety but note though that the physical exhibit differs slightly from its online connection. While this is convenient though, it’s a much more effective exhibit to see it in person.


Dr. Timothy Pytell, one of CSUSB’s History professors, is renowned in the scholarly world of Holocaust studies. Among having published many journals and articles, Dr. Pytell prepared a presentation to honor the remembrance of the Holocaust and it’s progression in scholarly work. It seems that every ten to twenty years there are new studies but most importantly new opinions brought up by modern scholars. The Holocaust is widely studied in such effect that it no longer represents an event that happened decades ago but stands as an example which we compare to the future. What was once just a review of the past has morphed into a critique of current events that could potentially reoccur.


Although the Holocaust is far behind us, Dr. Pytell makes it clear that genocide and the ability to commit atrocities is ever present, gaining speed even now, which is why he edits the exhibit’s original title to The Courage to Remember, The Courage to Act. We couldn’t stop the Holocaust but we can certainly act to stop further genocides. The first panel of the exhibit describes the goal to remember in its entirety: “We must have the courage to study, educate, and to remember the Holocaust. For only informed understanding, and morally committed individuals can prevent such persecution from happening again.”