Doomed to Repeat

“Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.” – George Santayana

In that case, Americans will be doomed to repeat the last century. Having read Clayton Cramer’s blog about his wife’s English students not knowing anything about Hitler except that he invaded the Soviet Union, I thought I would give my English students a quiz.

Half the students in one class thought 9/11 was in 2000. (Does that matter? I don’t know. But they were teens when it happened and they don’t know when.) I didn’t ask that other class anything else.

Another class I asked them to tell me who was on our side in WWII. They came up with several reasonable candidates.

I asked them to come up with our enemies and everyone came up with Germany but some people forgot Japan.

I asked them to tell me three bad things that Hitler had done. Committed suicide. Used meth. Killed a single person. (I don’t remember which person. I was in shock. I wrote it down, I think.) Those were the first three.

Then someone said “killed the Jews.” I think “executed 6 million Jews” should be the least people say about that. We are sanitizing history by saying it was the Holocaust. The word no longer has meaning. (Just a thought.)

They didn’t know about the 2 million Armenians killed.

They didn’t know about the Eastern Europeans who were also put in death camps and starved to death.

They didn’t know about his eugenics program. They didn’t know he killed already born people who were mentally or physically disabled.

They didn’t know he sterilized people against their will. “To establish supremacy of the Aryan race in Germany during Hitler’s regime, large population were sterilized by intrauterine injection of silver nitrate during routine physical examination without informing the women.” from Indian Journal of Medical Microbiology. (You know, I looked up “Hitler history eugenics” and most of the articles on the first page talked more about the American ideas about eugenics than about what Hitler did.)

They didn’t know he carried out experiments on living people. To read about the experimentation, you can go to Wikipedia.

I was told about the experiments of tying women’s legs together when they were in labor by someone who was alive during WWII, but I can’t find anything about it online.

Andrea Dworkin, not my favorite feminist by a long shot, has a moving and painful description of her search for the stories of women in the Holocaust museum. (The personal story here, that she was ten when her aunt specifically and graphically informed her of what had happened to her in the concentration camp may have been the beginning of AD’s overemphasis on women. We have certainly left them out often enough in history to need to be reminded of them.)