Speaker encourages audience to be ‘upstanders’ for fellow man

Marlene Roth speaks about the Nuremberg Racial Laws that identified who was and was not considered a Jew in Nazis Germany.
Photo by Melissa Rollins

By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer, slyles@newsandpress.net

When someone is being mistreated, everyone around them has the choice to be a bystander or someone who stands up and puts a stop to it. That was the message that speaker Marlene Roth shared during the annual Holocaust Remembrance Program at Francis Marion University Jan. 24.
Roth, a member of the South Carolina Council on the Holocaust Teacher Advisory Committee and the Columbia Holocaust Education Commission, said that hate is allowed to spread when people in a situation to stop it don’t.

Speaking of the Holocaust, Roth told the audience that sometimes ideas creep up slowly until they are accepted as normal.

“It started slowly, it didn’t just happen overnight,” Roth said. “It started in 1933 when Hitler came into power. The Nuremberg Laws, these were the laws where Jews lost their jobs, they lost their homes, lost their possessions; kids couldn’t have bicycles and women had to give up their furs and jewelry. Jewish people could only go to Jewish doctors. They had to give up their maids and for people who weren’t that wealthy, it was a problem. But the philosophy is that it would pass. That’s just like today when people say, ‘He’s only got three more years and then we’ll get rid of him and get a new president.’ Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.”

Roth told the audience that the Holocaust essentially erased millions of people from history, in turn erasing millions more who would never be born.
“Generations of Jewish families have been erased by the actions taken during the Holocaust,” Roth said.

She said that although the Holocaust is the most well-known genocide in history, others have occurred. She also gave the audience a definition of genocide so that they might better understand the term.

“Genocide is acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group,” Roth said. “How can we do this? You can kill members of the group, that’s obvious. You can cause serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; you don’t have to kill them to commit genocide. You can deliberately inflict on the group conditions calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part. That is what the Chinese did to the Tibetans. They took the kids in Tibet back to China, raised them there, gave them propaganda and then returned them to Tibet where they were now more Chinese than Tibetan, thereby destroying the Tibetan culture.”

Roth challenged the audience to make a difference any way that they can.

“Why do we study this,” Roth asked. “Because it didn’t stop seventy years ago, it goes on today; just look at the news. The refugee crisis. People being stereotyped when they come from certain country. It still goes on today. My question to you is, are you going to be a bystander or an upstander? Are you going to just let it happen or are you going to do something, even if that means writing a letter or an email or going to a march?”

Author: Duane Childers

Share This Post On

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
Posts Remaining