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The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 16, 2023

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Shedding light on holocausts of today

Concentration camp survivor Ernest Michel is not as concerned with sharing his personal account of the Holocaust that happened nearly 70 years ago – he’s more concerned with the holocaust that continues today.

On Friday, Michel focused his speech at the University on the genocide and ethnic cleansing that has occurred more recently in countries such as Cambodia, Rwanda, Sudan and the Balkan region.

‘During my lifetime about 170 million people in 26 countries have been starved, raped and murdered, and not in a war,’ Michel said. ‘This is about half the population of the U.S., and no one has done anything.’

Michel urged his audience to start taking action because someday in the future, people will ask, ‘How could this be allowed to happen?’ Those who stood by and did nothing will be forever defined by what they failed to do.

‘We as American citizens have the obligation to press for our government to do something about genocide,’ Michel said. ‘Vote for the right candidates and write letters urging your elected officials to get involved.

‘Those committing genocide must be punished. We must stop the genocide in Darfur. And most importantly, we must put these people on the international court of justice so this does not happen again.’

The United Nations has become involved in the Darfur situation and they have tried several people suspected of genocide in the international court – including former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic who many blame for starting three wars and committing ethnic cleansing. But the Milosevic trial was cut short after he was found dead of a heart attack in his cell on March 11.

Michel said he is glad the UN intervenes in these genocide situations and forces the murderers to face justice – just like the Nazis, who committed genocide against his people, faced justice at the Nuremburg Trials.

‘As someone who survived Auschwitz, and never knowing if I would see the next day, Nuremburg was the single most important event of my life because I finally saw justice prevail.’

Specifically, Michel saw justice prevail for one infamous Soviet soldier during the Nuremburg Trials.

As Michel entered Auschwitz Concentration Camp, a line was formed where a Soviet was giving a thumb up or down to each person that came before him. Thumb up, life. Thumb down, extermination. Michel was one of the lucky ones that were given a thumb-up.

During the Nuremburg Trials, Michel witnessed this Soviet soldier on trial for medical experimentation – the soldier was found guilty.

Michel credits international support for trying these criminals, but said it cannot be done without the help of everyone.

‘I am survivor #104995, thanks to the Allied Forces. Now its time for you to start helping by getting involved to stop genocide from ever happening again.’

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