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Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
– George Santayana
In writing Hadamar I wanted students to think about the importance of their own education. I wanted to highlight both the importance of children to a society but equally how a totalitarian society will attempt to indoctrinate its children so that future generations will grow up believing their twisted ideologies.
After reading the book, I want children and young adults to take what they have learned and apply it to their own world. To learn the importance of thinking for themselves, to understand that hatred in any form is never acceptable. No one is better or worse than others, especially not based on skin colour or physical or mental makeup. It takes all of us to make the world a better place.
Considering the horrific nature of much that is contained within the book, and writing for a mainly younger audience, I struggled with the question of how much to include or to omit. In the end I decided to stick as closely to the truth as I could. To leave things out would be disingenuous. To downplay the events at Hadamar would not do justice to the children and others who suffered within its walls.
Hadamar is meant to shock its readers. Not to bring prominence to the horrors that occurred within the House of Shudders but to highlight that, when people stand by or blindly follow hateful ideologies, they give free reign to madmen to implement equally insane policies. No matter the excuses the adults involved in the Aktion T-4 program gave: there can never be a justification for a society based to exterminate its own children.
The Nazis and the SS were bullies, plain and simple. Throughout the Holocaust and Aktion T-4 Program the Nazis deliberately picked elements of society that were least able to defend themselves, Jewish people, the disabled and mentally ill adults and children and people of colour whom that they systematically dehumanised before committing cold and calculating murder.
In reading the book I want young people to reconsider how they act towards one another. I want them to realise that bullying is never acceptable and, if left unchecked, the events contained in the book are the end result.
Young people live in a digital world. While most are responsible, this new freedom of speech allows ignorant posting of hateful messages on social media. People are forgetting the past. People are forgetting that words were how the Nazis could do what they did. Hadamar focuses on Germany’s different children because I want today’s children to understand that the events that took place in Hadamar were bullying of the greatest extreme. I want them to reconsider how they interact with others. I want them to think about what they do and what they post online. I want them to realise that people with any type of difference, colour, race, religion, disabilities or mental health issues are not to be feared or hated but treated equally and as an important part of society capable of powerful and important contributions to bettering the world.
The importance of teaching the new generations about the atrocities committed by the Nazis does not come down to just sordidly focusing on the atrocities themselves but to make children aware that they did occur. The world of yesterday may have made terrible mistakes but, as in Santayana’s quote, if children of today are aware of them they will ensure we never see such events happen again. If young people can have a greater understanding of the past and the dangers of hating those who are different then, perhaps, they can create a better future.
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