A Life Lesson For So Many That Were Lost

| Learning | March 12, 2015

(I’m in a history of the Holocaust class. The teacher had been teaching at the high school for several decades, and could get away with saying whatever he wanted. He’s also Jewish, and has family that survived the Holocaust.)

Other Student: “What’s genocide? I mean, I don’t get it. Isn’t it just killing people?”

Teacher: “…let me explain to you, my dear children, what the difference between homicide and genocide is, with the help of an example. Let’s say that I went out and bought a sniper rifle, with a specific use for it in mind. I go into school with the sniper rifle. Then, before the end of the day, I set it up on the roof. I wait until the bell rings and students begin to flood out of the front doors. From my spot on the roof, I begin shooting every person I can from my spot with my sniper rifle. That would be considered homicide.”

(The room is so quiet; you could most likely hear a feather drop.)

Teacher: “Now let’s say instead, that I buy my sniper rifle, take it up to the roof, set it up, then wait for school to get out. But instead of shooting any person I can, I begin picking off only the Jewish kids out of the crowd coming out of the doors. That… is genocide.”

(He just stares at us with a small smile, everyone silent and still.)

Teacher: “Now that that’s clear, let’s get back to how the concentration camps began. Can anyone name the first one started?”

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