Holocaust of the Innocents
It is difficult for us to grasp the huge scale of the misery that is inflicted on innocent people by the many conflicts that affect our lives and the lives of the peoples of our world. Whether a conflict is tiny – a family fall-out – or major a war between countries, different races within a country, tribes, people of different colour or religions they almost always have one thing in common, there will be innocent victims who will had no say in the reasons to fight and quarrel and will have no say in what may happen to them as a result of such conflicts.
You have been looking closely at one of the greatest disasters inflicted on a people whose only cause for their persecution was that they shared a common religion and racial background – the Jewish people of 1940’s Europe. They had no quarrel with Germany or the other countries where they lived but were good citizens of those countries and yet they were persecuted, even to their deaths not for what they did but just for being who they were. Men, women, children, young, old, rich or poor for them there was no distinction in the journey to the Death Camps and the Gas Chambers. The massacre of the innocents indeed!
At the Forces Children’ Trust we try to help the children who have lost a parent whilst serving in the British Armed Forces, firstly, in Iraq and now increasingly in Afghanistan. They also are the innocent victims of a conflict far away from their world of childhood. Furthermore, they may need help from outside their family who themselves have so much to cope with. With our help we try to show them that they are not alone in their grief and loss and that there are other children going through the same ordeal and together they can help one another. We have learned from experience that children deal differently with bereavement and the Trust was founded to give them the individual support that they need.
But what of the boy in the photograph with his hands held high in the air to show he was not a threat to those men with guns surrounding him. Look into his eyes, eyes that show fear and bewilderment. His mother is with him but she cannot give him comfort that things will get better now and in the future. He has done nothing to put him into this fear for his life. No, he represents all the innocent children killed and to be killed by the Germans of the 1940’s in the Holocaust for the ‘crime’ of being a Jew. What was his fate? Was he separated immediately from his mother the only one who could comfort and reassure him but did not do so the help that he desperately needed but did not get. Or did he go with her all the way to the Gas Chambers and death still desperate for help when there was none.
Conflict will have denied him our most precious gift of life and the right to live it to the full. Things he might have been and maybe the chance to help others to a better life denied him All conflicts deny the innocent something we more fortunate people take for granted. They get no medals – they are the unknown victims of our world and us. Many may now get help but for the boy in the photograph there was no help.
Look into his eyes – they are the eyes of The Holocaust, The Holocaust of the Innocents and we shouldn’t forget them.
JAMES WALSH FCT TRUSTEE