Children and the Holocaust

Front view of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Anne Frank House (Photo by Cecile Meijer, rscj)

My deepest roots are in the Netherlands, and I grew up with stories, literature and memorials of the Holocaust during World War II. All of these are constant, powerful reminders of the unimaginable human suffering caused by the cruelty of neighboring friends and foes. Unfortunately, such crucifixion of our neighbor still happens today in places around the world.

As we commemorate another International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust (January 27), the word genocide comes to mind, a term first coined by Raphael Lemkin, a Polish legal scholar and refugee in World War II. Regardless whether or not today’s horrors in places such as the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo meet the strictly legal standards of the Genocide Convention, persecuting our neighbor in whatever way means denying the human and divine dignity within that person.

The theme of this year’s commemoration is Children and the Holocaust. As we remember the sufferings of children during World War II, I invite you to include today’s children who are victims of similar war atrocities – child soldiers who have been forcibly recruited; child brides who are ‘given’ to soldiers as booties of war; refugee children and children in flight; children in conflict zones who are heads of households caring for their younger siblings, and so many others.

Valuable educational resources can be found at:

Cecile Meijer, rscj
         NGO Office 
      January 2012