April 10, 2010 in Features

Contest winner makes plea to end continued denials

Perri Greeley Lewis and Clark High School
 

Lewis and Clark’s Perri Greeley won this year’s Holocaust essay contest.
(Full-size photo)

‘Confronting Holocaust denial’

Nearly 100 Spokane area high school students participated in a creative writing contest for the Spokane Community Observance of the Holocaust.

Their researched essays, repudiating Holocaust denial, were written as open letters to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called the Holocaust a “mythical claim.”

The winning essay by Perri Greeley of Lewis and Clark High School is published here. Essays by the three runners-up – Zina Zimmerman, Lewis and Clark; Phillip Yan, Gonzaga Prep; and Julia Wing, Ferris – can be read at spokesman.com/tags/holocaust-essay-contest

President Ahmadinejad:

I write this letter not as a suggestion, not as a recommendation, but as a plea. A plea for justice, for recognition of the millions of Jews, homosexuals, ethnic Poles, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and all the other groups that were targeted during the event you refuse to acknowledge: The Holocaust.

Holocaust, as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “a thorough destruction involving extensive loss of life especially through fire.”

When asked to describe the Holocaust that took place in Europe during World War II, the words “terrifying” “hateful” and “atrocious” come to mind. It is my wish, along with millions of others, that anti-Semitism, homophobia, and any other discrimination ended with the Holocaust, but your denial proves that these prejudiced feelings linger on in our society.

By completely ignoring the horrific events that happened during the Holocaust, you perform what Elie Wiesel has called a “double killing.” Recognizing the Holocaust would be one step closer to a peaceful, non-discriminating world.

I would like to confront the factual and tangible evidence that you seem to overlook when declaring that the Holocaust was a fictional event. One claim you make is that the estimated amount of people killed during the Holocaust – 6 million Jews and 5 million other people – is a hugely exaggerated number.

When reading this claim, I was confused. Where, if they didn’t die, did all these people go? How does the extensive documentation – and the extermination camps – not prove to you that not only were these innocent people killed, but burned alive?

True, I find this claim hard to believe just like you do, but it is only because I cannot accept that there are humans in this world evil enough to perform such a monstrous task. From these hard, cold facts my main question arises: How?

How can you choose to disbelieve the alarming amount of information that we have on the Holocaust? How can you ignore the pure evil that took place during this genocide? By refusing to believe what happened, you are assuring that more genocides will occur in the future. Genocide denial starts a cycle which can only be broken when everyone is completely truthful about the past.

It would be an understatement to say that genocides are gruesome. But even so, the events that occurred during the Holocaust seem more grotesque than any other mass murder in history.

A few years ago my family and I visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. We saw pictures which made every person there either want to cry or vomit. Pictures of adults and children alike, skin hanging off their bones like clothes on a hanger, almost unrecognizable as human beings.

Pictures of dead, innocent beings thrown carelessly into a pile as if their hearts had never held a beat, their lungs had never filled with air. Once again, I can’t help but ask how you can deny this atrocity.

Are you truly able to turn your back on the memories of these men, women and children, killed because they didn’t fit the description of the “perfect human being?” By proclaiming that this horrifying event never happened you are denying the survivors and relatives of victims the comfort of acknowledgment.

All humans deserve the right to be recognized. Why? Because everyone hopes to be remembered after they have passed away. One reason our society is so afraid of death is because the thought of being forgotten is unnerving. By denying the Holocaust, you are single-handedly erasing the memory of every person that was affected by this mass killing.

In order to help recognize these victims, I plan to make a petition signed by members of my community that states that we will no longer put up with Holocaust denial. If you continue to call this devastating event a “myth,” we will peacefully protest, doing whatever we can to stop the lies, because I know that every human being, from the tiny newborn baby to the white-haired old woman, deserves to be remembered.

You may ask why your denial of the Holocaust affects me so deeply. I feel so strongly about this topic because genocide and genocide denial has had a great impact on my family. My great-grandmother and grandfather escaped Armenia during the Armenian genocide, leaving horror and poverty to make a better life in the United States.

Evidence proving that the Armenian genocide happened is just as abundant as for the Holocaust, but some rulers still refuse to acknowledge the appalling event that took place. I know that recognizing this genocide and paying tribute to the victims would comfort the families of the Armenians who were not as lucky as my great-grandparents.

Can you not see how genocide denial affects so many people? Can you not see how your truthfulness about the Holocaust would not only bring relief and comfort, but would also reduce the chance of another genocide?

So now, I ask you – no, beg of you – to be completely truthful about the Holocaust, in honor of all the victims, because all humans deserve to be recognized. Take the first step toward a non-discriminating world, and others will follow.


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