A few years ago I was a volunteer guide at the Holocaust Museum in Melbourne. It is a very solemn museum devoted to the memory of the Jews who were exterminated by the Nazis during the Second World War.
Among the many visitors to the museum were school children of high-school age. They would come with their teachers to learn about the Holocaust and most of the time they were very well-behaved.
Some were visibly affected by what they saw. It was an excursion that was part of their education and it was meant to teach them about the dangers of bigotry and racial hatred so that the world would be a better place in the future.
We can all live in hope and we have to try to improve things, don’t we?
I remember one particular occasion, however, which depressed and horrified me.
It concerned a school visit from one of the Northern suburbs of Melbourne. I was walking around the exhibit as was my role as a guide when I heard a couple of Lebanese boys making fun of the photos of Jews being tortured by the Nazis. I know they were Lebanese because I overheard them talking and then they spoke in English.
This is what they said as they stood in front of a particularly horrible photo.
“We could learn a lot from the Nazis about how to deal with the Jews.”
Those two boys were about 15 at the time and that was five years ago.
I can’t help wondering where these boys ended up.