The Holocaust did not begin in the gas chambers – it began with words

Jan. 26, 2009

“……The first lesson is the importance of remembrance itself. For as we remember the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust – first defamed, demonized and dehumanized, as prologue or justification for genocide, then murdered…”

“…….The enduring lesson of the Holocaust and the genocides that followed is that they occurred not simply because of the machinery of death, but because of a state-sanctioned ideology of hate. This teaching of contempt, this demonizing of the other – this is where it all begins. As the Canadian Supreme Court recognized, in words echoed by the international criminal tribunals in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, the Holocaust did not begin in the gas chambers – it began with words. These, as the courts put it, are the chilling facts of history. These are the catastrophic effects of racism….

The writer is the former Canadian minister of justice and attorney general and is a law professor (on leave) from McGill University. He has written extensively on international human rights law and genocide prevention.

Read the full article here:


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