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A month to remember

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- -- For most of us, April signifies the beginning of spring and an end to winter. This month is synonymous with spring showers, warmer weather and the budding of flowers. Some individuals will begin the tedious process of changing their winter wardrobe over to their spring wardrobe. Others will get nitty gritty and completely scrub down their entire house in what we know as spring cleaning. However, this month is not only about warmer weather, decluttering, or the beginning of new life; this month is also a time of remembrance.

From 1933 to 1945, the Nazi regime conducted the mass extermination of the Jewish people in Europe. This was known as Adolf Hitler’s Final Solution, which justified these mass exterminations by claiming that the German race was the superior race and that the Jews were not only racially inferior but they were a threat to the German community. However, Jews weren’t the only targets. Gypsies, the disabled, Slavic peoples, homosexuals, and individuals of different political and religious backgrounds were persecuted. These individuals experienced harsh and unsanitary living conditions, forced labor, medical experiments, and the infamous gas chambers. When the concentration camps were liberated on May 7, 1945, and Nazi Germany surrendered, the regime had claimed the lives of millions of victims. Specifically, at least 6 million victims were European Jew’s. That meant two out of three European Jews were killed.

Take a moment in the month of April to remember those who have suffered in the Holocaust. Read a book or watch a documentary about the Holocaust. Celebrate those who have survived and impacted society. You can even partake in the Remembrance activities at your installation. We must never forget these atrocities that took place in history, not only to learn from our predecessors, but to prevent tragic history from repeating itself.


Books about the Holocaust

'Night' by Elie Wiesel

Born into a Jewish ghetto in Hungary, as a child, Elie Wiesel was sent to the Nazi concentration camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald. This is his account of that atrocity: the ever-increasing horrors he endured, the loss of his family and his struggle to survive in a world that stripped him of humanity, dignity and faith. Describing in simple terms the tragic murder of a people from a survivor's perspective, Night is among the most personal, intimate and poignant of all accounts of the Holocaust. A compelling consideration of the darkest side of human nature and the enduring power of hope, it remains one of the most important works of the twentieth century.

'The Book Thief' by Markus Zusak

It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery ...

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist – books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau. This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

'The Boy in the Striped Pajamas' by John Boyne

When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance.

But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.

'Man's Search for Meaning' by Viktor E. Frankl

Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl's memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Between 1942 and 1945 Frankl labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. Based on his own experience and the experiences of others he treated later in his practice, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. Frankl's theory-known as logotherapy, from the Greek word logos ("meaning")-holds that our primary drive in life is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful.

At the time of Frankl's death in 1997, Man's Search for Meaning had sold more than 10 million copies in twenty-four languages. A 1991 reader survey for the Library of Congress that asked readers to name a "book that made a difference in your life" found Man's Search for Meaning among the ten most influential books in America.

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