Foreign Policy Blogs

Playing Political Games with Other People’s Tragedies

Auschwitz: Nazi Germany killed 3 million Poles and 3 million Polish Jews (Photo: Clark & Kim Kays)

An effective tool for prolonging many of the genocides over the last one hundred years was to make sure that the human rights atrocities were either unknown, the information was skewed, or by diminishing the act itself through language and politics. The recent moves by some in Poland’s government to diminish Poland’s role in the Holocaust has raised the temperature over the issue, one that is a lot more complicated than one border with actions taken by one nation against another. The Katyn massacre itself, a well known human rights atrocity against the Polish people during the Second World War, had questions surrounding it for years after the war as well. A fierce debate still continues with unreliable information and skewed evidence coming from years of political pressure coming from the Soviet Union. Often when such atrocities are ignored, information that is found can be politicized and skewed in trying to discover the truth and seek justice. After so many years and the generation that lived through the time of the Holocaust now disappearing, the history is being used in a vicious and irresponsible way, codifying a severe strain on freedom of speech and committing gross disrespect to those who suffered and were executed in a human rights atrocity.

The incredible lack of information and discussion about the current genocide taking place against ancient minorities in the Middle East has a direct link to the lack of information, action and simple justice never given to victims of the Armenian Genocide and other groups who suffered ethnic cleansing at the end of the Ottoman Empire. During the Second World War, the lack of action in stopping the Armenian Genocide gave Nazi designers of the Holocaust the blueprint on how to exterminate Europe’s Jewish population without it being known to not only the Allies, but their own people. If they were not able to erase the information, their media was designed to skew the information and discourage any investigation or opposition to their actions. Anyone who still uses these tactics must always measure them against the forgotten genocide of the Armenians and the skewed information that lead to the Nazi Holocaust against the Jewish people. To throw such terms around is akin to linking back to the worst traits of humanity and a direct and complete lack of respect for those true victims of Genocide.

When one individual in a free society refer to another as a Nazi because of a disagreement, it becomes obvious that they require a real education on who the Nazis were and what they actually did. It is also clear that they either do not understand their own democracy, rights and yes, even obligations. It also shows a complete lack of respect for real victims of an actual genocide. Using such a label as a pejorative term also blunts the true meaning and history linked to it, and further contributes to skewing the real history and devalues the need for justice when human rights atrocities occur. It simply erases the history we all need to know of and understand, and education that is painfully critical for those who use such terms. It is simply gross and unacceptable and is unfortunately part of common language in today’s debate culture in democratic nations. It becomes extremely dangerous when governments and their officials use it to silence anyone.



Richard Basas
Richard Basas

Richard Basas, a Canadian Masters Level Law student educated in Spain, England, and Canada (U of London MA 2003 LL.M., 2007), has worked researching for CSIS and as a Reporter for the Latin America Advisor. He went on to study his MA in Latin American Political Economy in London with the University of London and LSE. Subsequently, Rich followed his career into Law focusing mostly on International Commerce and EU-Americas issues. He has worked for many commercial and legal organisations as well as within the Refugee Protection Community in Toronto, Canada, representing detained non-status indivduals residing in Canada. Rich will go on to study his PhD in International Law.

Areas of Focus:
Law; Economics and Commerce; Americas; Europe; Refugees; Immigration