On the Holocaust
Where does one start when talking about the Holocaust? The word derives from the Greek, a burnt offering, a sacrifice by fire. It is one of the greatest crimes in human history. And we are cautioned to learn its lessons. Historian Timothy Snyder argues that “The history that we might understand is rather different than the history that we generally remember and that if we did it right the lessons that we draw from the present and the future would be different lessons than the ones we draw now. And that’s important,” Snyder says, “because whether we like it or not we are already drawing lessons from the Holocaust. We do it all the time. But what if we understand the Holocaust incompletely or even incorrectly, then we’ve drawn the wrong lessons and we may be accelerating disaster rather than preventing it.”
Timothy Snyder is the Richard C. Levin Professor of History at Yale and a permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, Austria. He is the author of Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning, Our Malady and On Tyranny.