Tour of Humanity teaches communities about human rights issues
Although the class of Grade 7 students from Stouffville are more than seven decades removed from Nazi Germany, they were absorbed and saddened as they learned of the atrocities of the Holocaust.
“It’s important to us because what if someone (like Adolf Hitler) here gets in power?” Ruthy Benny, a student at St. Brigid Catholic Elementary School said following a Tour for Humanity presentation Dec. 7 by the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies.
“We don’t want to make the same mistakes, so we have to learn about the history so that we don’t make the same mistakes we made before.”
Tour for Humanity is a mobile bus that travels around Ontario teaching communities about human rights issues.
The travelling classroom highlights examples of discrimination, including Canada’s Indigenous residential schools, internment of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War and early acceptance of slavery.
Although Ruthy and her classmates were familiar with elements the Holocaust, they were upset to learn additional details, including the slaughter of very young children.
“It made me feel disturbed. These are kids, like, six and five years old. Why would they do this to them?” Ruthy said.
Classmate Dimitri Drikos said it is important to learn about Hitler’s tactics of persuading ordinary citizens to carry out his genocide.
“Hitler had a very good presentation, he had a very good voice, he looked very intimidating. He had his army and seeing what they did to other people made other people want to join him so it didn’t happen to them,” Dimitri said.
“This all happened a long time ago, but they say history repeats itself so something like this could happen. The chances are very low, but what happened has made our country and other countries what they are today.”