Eighty years ago, Germany invaded Poland. On September 1st, 1939,  the Second World War was starting. It was one of the biggest atrocities in human history.  Between 70 million and 85 million died, among those, around 30 million were civilians killed by military activity committing crimes against humanity.

When Hitler raised to power in 1933, anti-Jewish actions slowly started appearing in Germany. An example of it were the Nürember Laws, which stated that Judaism was “like a disease” that spreads through blood contact. These laws set the basis to justify the division between Jews and Germans who were not Jews.  Mixed marriages were forbidden and Jews were no longer considered German citizens. This is only one of the examples. When Nazis started invading different countries in Europe, they didn’t only conquer new territories. They also brought their Anti-Jewish laws.  Jews started losing their citizenship overnight. They couldn’t run their own business, use public transport, go to cinemas, attend non-Jewish schools, enter non-Jewish neighbors, they had to wear the yellow star, they had a new second name to differentiate them from the non-Jewish population (Sara for Women, Israel for Men). Life, as it was known, was over.

In 1939 the war started and anti-Jewish laws became even more powerful. In 1940 Ghettos were established in Poland and some other Eastern European countries. In 1942 Final Solution was a reality and gas chambers were installed.

By the end of the war, 60% of the Jewish population had been killed.

The Second World War was one of the biggest atrocities committed by humans against other humans.

Weapons and gas chambers were invented by educated Engineers. In the concentration camps, educated doctors were making human experiments. Scientists stood by Nazis’s side to affirm that people had different degrees of intelligence according to their race, and big companies operated in concentration camps because it was cheaper for them.

All the death and suffering came from human beings.

It was human machinery – a fact that makes us believe that, yes, it can happen again. What prevent us from seeing again this kind of purifation in the name of “humankind? Maybe our belief that today we have more tools to speak up against ideologies that justify such atrocities.

It’s our duty to teach empathy. To be compassionate. To love.

We cannot be silent. We must work in order to shape a world that is naturally kind and empathetic.

By Elena Cuomo