Did We Learn Anything from the Past?

Dear Editor:

George Santayana warned that if we fail to learn from the past, then we’re doomed to repeat it.

April 28th marks the 75th anniversary of the execution of Benito Mussolini. His Axis partner, Adolf Hitler, would commit suicide two days later. Germany would unconditionally surrender to the Allies on May 8, 1945. Victory in Europe (V-E) Day ushered in the hope that the horrors of programmed hatred would be eradicated, the “De-Nazification” of Germany.

Those responsible for the reprehensible acts of the national socialist state were held accountable for their nefarious deeds. By the end of the 1940’s, the world had become more aware, more concerned, and more sensitive about the aggressive and oppressive policies of rogue nations, such as the Soviet Union, China, and a communist puppet regime on the Korean peninsula (North Korea). Unfortunately, at some point in the last half-century, it seems that we have forgotten the sacrifices that many had made to secure the blessings of democracy, freedom, and liberty — to “De-Nazify” Germany.

Many European nations and Israel have enacted laws prohibiting Holocaust denial. Up until recently, Mein Kampf was banned in Germany. The hostile rise and ultimate collapse of Mussolini’s fascist state brought about the demise of the Italian monarchy. Granted, that is all historically accurate. By the same token, Iran had sponsored a controversial conference aimed at refuting the validity of the Holocaust. As repulsively absurd as this may seem, Holocaust deniers continue to work feverishly to prove that Nazi-sponsored genocide is nothing more than an elaborate hoax to perpetuate the interests of “International Zionism.”

Just prior to the 2019 Holiday season, two drifters executed an anti-Semitic terrorist attack. That violent encounter resulted in the deaths of a veteran police officer and four innocent victims in a kosher deli. Subsequently, anti-Semitic activities were reported throughout the local metropolitan area, to include the desecration of Jewish houses of worship.

Hatred, racism and intolerance are “color blind.” Nor are they confined to a specific belief. The terrorists of December 10 were not members of a white neo-Nazi group; they were black. Nor were Jewish synagogues and temples the only targets of hatred. Catholic shrines also have been defiled. It appears that every segment of society has a radical wing bent on spewing abhorrence, aversion, and animosity against others who are “different.”

Regrettably, the despotic philosophies of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler didn’t die with them. The heinous principles of Nazism and Fascism are still very much alive. We continue to be plagued with anti-Semitism, racism, hatred, and intolerance; indeed, very reminiscent of what had occurred in national socialist Germany and fascist Italy.

Did we really learn anything from what had happened in Germany and Italy? From what I’ve seen, I tend to doubt it.

John Di Genio