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Keeping lessons of Holocaust alive for judges

May 26, 2012
Salem News

We teach children that if they are in public and feel threatened, they should seek out a police officer for protection. But what if the threat is the officer? And what if the courts punish his victims?

At least in this country, such a scenario is difficult to comprehend. But there was a time when it happened on a horrendous scale.

It has been two-thirds of a century since World War II ended and the terror that was The Holocaust was revealed. No one really knows with any specificity how many victims it claimed. Six million, most of them Jews, were killed by the genocidal Nazi machine.

Even many Americans who lived through that era could not understand how it could have happened. The passing of time has made The Holocaust seem more incomprehensible. It becomes easier and easier to reassure ourselves that "never again" is a vow that can be kept.

Genocide still occurs, sometimes on a wide scale, of course. But what occurred in Germany and the areas it conquered before and during World War II remains the sickening model for institutionalized slaughter.

This fall, in a program organized by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, more than 450 Ohio judges will learn more about what happened during the Nazi era and, more important, how it occurred.

Museum Director Sara Bloomfield explained the program was set up to address the question of how police and courts could become persecutors instead of protectors.

It happened on an enormous scale unimaginable to most people today. Tens of thousands of German police and judges helped arrest Jews and other "undesirables" and send them to death camps. Millions of Germans were part of the process, in ways small and large.

It happened, and that means the only thing preventing it from occurring again is knowledge of how the process of perverting justice occurred in Germany.

Members of the Ohio Supreme Court have been active in seeking answers to that. Judges planning to participate in the fall training are to be commended for understanding special efforts must be made to prevent another Holocaust.



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