Remembering how 6 million Jews died at the hands of the Nazis 60 years ago is just as important today as it ever was, an expert on the Holocaust said Sunday night during a lecture in Lawrence.
A plethora of hate groups and hate propaganda can be found just about anywhere, said Roy Schwartzman, who is on the board of governors for the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education in Kansas City, Mo.
"We find the pathway to hate is right around the corner," said Schwartzman, who also is a professor of speech and communication at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Mo.
Schwartzman spoke to about a dozen people at the Lawrence Jewish Community Center, 917 Highland Drive. His lecture was in conjunction with the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day, which began Sunday evening and continues today. The event began with a short reading of Jewish literature from the Holocaust period by Rabbi Scott White.
Schwartzman noted that an Internet Web site search for the word Jew leads to a site at the top of the list that is anti-Jewish.
"I just find it troublesome that one derivative of the word that describes my religion steers people to a Web site of hate," Schwartzman said.
Schwartzman discussed the methods used by the Nazis prior to World War II to dehumanize and demonize Jews.
What Schwartzman called "racial science" was used by the Nazis to distinguish facial and body characteristics of Jews from those of Nordic Germans. Nazis also depicted being Jewish as a disease and a public health threat.
"If it's a health threat you can take drastic actions for a cure," Schwartzman said.
Nazis used a simple process to identify Jews as a threat and then took steps to distance themselves from the threat through legal restrictions and quarantining. The process advances to neutralizing the threat and then destroying it, Schwartzman said.
Some of the processes the Nazis used to identify and distance the threat could be found in the United States, and Schwartzman noted the racial practices against blacks in the South prior to 1960s racial strife.
A failure by the general population to question such processes could allow ethnic hatred to grow, Schwartzman said.
Nothing Schwartzman said was surprising, some in the audience said afterward. But they also said it was important to remember the Holocaust and reiterate how it came to be.
"It's all just as disturbing as it can be," said Steve Shawl, of Lawrence.