The 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp where more than a million people were killed, was marked on Thursday.
Two-thirds of all Europe's Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, along with Roma, Poles and other Slavs, Soviet prisoners of war, homosexuals, and mentally and physically disabled people.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said the UN must do everything in its power to prevent a repeat of the slaughter.
Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel said he feared the lessons of Auschwitz had already been lost. He said: "If the world had listened we may have prevented Darfur, Cambodia, Bosnia and naturally Rwanda."
Have we learnt the lessons of Auschwitz? Have we forgotten them? Are you a survivor yourself or related to a survivor? If so, what are your memories?
This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.
While we are forever horrified by the events of the Holocaust and the wise among us know not to forget what happened, we also add, too quickly, "But that will never happen again." It is too easy to consign the terror and cruelty of that time to the past and to another people, while at the same time dehumanizing some "other" in the world. When compassion reigns and dehumanization only belongs as a horror story in history books, only then can we say that the lessons have been learned.
RP, Baltimore, USA
There is so much to learn. Obviously the lessons of Auschwitz have fallen on deaf ears! The world today is in the grip of a maddening insensitivity, hatred, lawlessness, terror and bigotry. Human values have taken a back seat. What a real shame! World leaders should do more but unfortunately either they do not have the will, charisma or cannot simply be bothered as long as they remain in power. The abject situation in Dafur is testimony to the insensitivity of world leaders. Power definitely corrupts: all good intentions conveniently forgotten once well-entrenched in the seats of power. Presidents and prime ministers, you could do far better; search your individual conscience to rectify this glaring anomaly.
Pancha Chandra, Brussels, Belgium.
Whilst Auschwitz was undoubtedly appalling, it is also sickening to see people cynically using its anniversary to bang on about the protection of the state of Israel as if it justified the military occupation of Palestinian land and the threat of invading Iran.
John Farmer, Henley-on-Thames, UK
Have we learned the lessons since Auschwitz? Look at China, Cambodia, Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Korea, Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Chile, El Salvador, Columbia Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Algeria and Afghanistan, all of which have seen death and destruction on a monstrous and sickening scale since the liberation of Auschwitz 60 years ago.
Sam, Maidstone, UK
All remembrance days are pretty much like 'confession' time. As a world, we stand in silence, light a few candles, sing a few songs and listen to some sobering words - then we go right out and do it all over again! Human nature I guess. I don't hold out much hope.
I will teach my children about history. Will you teach yours? It is our duty to the dead to educate the future generations about hate and prejudice. Peaceful wishes on this sombre anniversary.
Christine, Vancouver, Canada
It is saddening to see how little contemporary pupils know about Auschwitz. A planned school trip to the gruesome site should be on the curriculum for every one of them. My father was a slave labourer during the war, but he made me clear of the horrors when I was a child and warned me to stay vigilant - to try to protect all people from similar cruelties, because he was sure it would happen again. He was right.
Jan Verboven, Malle, Belgium
I visited Auschwitz - Birkeneu fifteen years ago. I was 18 years old then. What I saw shocked me and made the meaning of war and persecution more clear and tangible. There were moments in which I could almost feel the presence of those who had suffered so much on this site. Today I still hold vivid memories of both concentration camps. Unfortunately I don't think that the world has learnt much from this slaughter - so many wars are still around and so many people are still dying because of political and religious persecution.
Rita Gatt, Msida, Malta
One small way for children to understand is for reading such as Anne Frank's Diary to be part of the curriculum.
Rod Cox, Watford, Herts, UK
I got involved in some community work in my area and I visited a holocaust survivor. What struck me was the sense of inexpressible sadness, like a part of him had been taken forever and could never be restored. Talking to him filled me with sorrow and pain and helped me realise the dangers of intolerance in all its forms. The survivors have, and those who know them should, play an important role in making sure we never forget.
Sukhar Jabaratji, London
Those who compare Abu Ghraib with what happened at Auschwitz should be forced to watch the excellent BBC2 series on Auschwitz - then curl up in a ball of shame.
Genghis Kahn destroyed whole cities, Turks massacred the Armenians, the British hunted the Tasmanian Aboriginals to extinction. Mass murder and genocide is unfortunately not unique to WW2 and is happening today. What makes the Holocaust unique is the cold-blooded, industrial way murder was committed.
Brett Alcock, Palmerston North, New Zealand
We have learnt that we do not like genocide. On a moral level it shocks and repels us. Yet, one wonders how well we have understood the causes of discrimination and violence. We know ethnic nationalism is dangerous. We know that the reality or perception of market dominant minorities is an important issue. We know that an underdeveloped or demoralised and apathetic political sphere paves the way for extremist ideologues to purvey a message of hatred. Above all we know that poverty, relative or absolute, is crucial to breeding resentments and anger. So we know the potential problems we need to be aware of and try to counter. It is not easy though. The world is a complex place and individual and collective moral assertions count for less than we would like.
Anthony Frazer, Ballymena, Northern Ireland
As the granddaughter of Holocaust victims, I have trouble understanding how this total massacre of innocent people could happen. My anger and deep sadness for those who perished has taught me to speak out, be vigilant and protect the rights of others. We have a responsibility to learn from this dark chapter in history and to do our part to protect others from hate, prejudice and threats of terror before we become the next victim.
Cynthia, San Francisco, USA
Auschwitz is now synonymous with all things evil, but humanity has not, and never will, fully learn the lessons from that horror. The slaughter of over 1 million Armenians, the horrors of Biafra, the murder of the Aboriginal people in Australia during the settlement years, the almost genocidal destruction of the Beothuks in Canada, aren't even thought of today, let alone internationally recognized.
And before we go blindly along, congratulating ourselves on our new found 'awareness' of things past, look quickly to the present, which is all we have to work with. The 'red under the bed' fear mongering in the USA is typical of the type of thinking that creates the helpless victim everywhere. Humans are what they are, selfish, greedy, frightened and then apologetic for a time, and then the circle starts again. To all those who doubt this, look in your own backyards.
Sandy, Sarnia, Canada
For most people, in this comfortable modern world, it is too much effort to look in the mirror of the past because we are too well aware that mankind has not really learnt the lessons at all. That discomforting knowledge is stuffed behind a cushion of ignorance.
Juliette Reid, Knysna, South Africa
No, we have not learnt the lessons of Auschwitz. I just read the report by Caroline Wyatt about the book written by Irene Nemirovsky in which she writes that Irene and her husband "died" at Auschwitz. A million and a half people were murdered at Auschwitz. No-one "died" there. The use of sterile language takes away from the Nazi horrors.
Shula Shinwell, Rehovot, Israel
The Holocaust wasn't perpetrated by bloodstained SS guards, foaming at the mouth with hatred - it was perpetrated by men in immaculate suits, calmly using bureaucratic euphemisms to discuss the extermination of an entire race over wine and cigars; it was perpetrated by clerks, typists, accountants and office boys, who measured, stamped and recorded human lives as though they were cattle and it was perpetrated by ordinary Germans who simply didn't want to think about what was going on. Those people are far more frightening than the SS, because it is much easier to see yourself in them.
Simon, Derby, England
The world seems to have a short memory of the deliberate evil that happens to mankind. It may seem normal to forget the past but committing such evil must not be let to see the light of day
Gabriel Okumu, Nairobi, Kenya
Sadly, I feel we haven't learnt the lessons and that is why it is so important for these dreadful things to be commemorated so that the message remains alive and is not allowed to drift into history. One only has to look around the world to see evil manifesting itself in such a similar way to that of the Nazi's Final Solution, to understand that we are still able to allow these horrors to occur.
Sam Bailey, Devon, UK
Today, on most of the news channels in the UK, reporters are asking if teenagers are forgetting the past. I am a teacher. Today during my PSE lesson with my form of year sevens, I took the time to discuss with them what happened. Although they were uncertain of the details, they were aware of what happened and asked dozens of questions, mostly... why? It's not a case of whether or not teenagers care; it's whether or not they have been told. The most thoughtful point came when an 11-year-old suggested that we hold two minutes silence. The whole class then stood in silence.
Joe Finer, Hull, UK
Darfur, Bosnia, Rwanda. It is obvious that not all have leant the lessons of Auschwitz. Some never will, it's human nature.
John S, Truro
If we are to learn anything from Auschwitz it is that atrocities don't just belong to the past. If it could happen then, it could happen now - anywhere in the world, to any group of people. And like Germany of the 1930s and 40s it is just as likely that too few would try to intervene before it was too late.
Les, Kildare, Ireland
It's sad but we have learnt to make excuses and convince ourselves that more recent genocide events are different from the Holocaust. It's the only explanation I have as to why we still cannot seem to make a difference in Darfur, in the Balkans and in various parts of Indo China.
We will never learn the lessons about the Nazi regime, what they did, how they did it and why, until we are able to get unbiased information about it. The Jews were the largest group to suffer but not the only group and not the first. The Nazis set out to eliminate whoever they considered to be a threat to their state: the mentally ill, the criminal, the communists, the social democrats and trade unionists and of course the Jews. They did it quite legally by manipulating the law. Martin Niemoeller told us about it and there's a lesson for our times. When all the laws that protect us from unlimited state are dismantled what will protect us then?
Peter Haldane, Cirencester, UK
We need to be constantly vigilant - even against our own reactions. The genocide in Germany, the Balkans, Rwanda and many other places happened between people who were once neighbours. In a short space of time those same people would turn on, victimise, denounce or even kill men, women and children with whom they had lived side by side, were friends with, played sports or music with.
They may have been manipulated by clever politicians who exposed racial or religious differences out of all proportion for there own ends but they were still ordinary people. The capability to take part in (or turn a blind eye to) genocide is within all of us.
Auschwitz was the ultimate, monstrous expression of a flawed ideology, an ideology which was supported by "average" people, by laws, by government, by institutions, and industry. It was not only the product of an "evil few", although there were certainly more than a few evil individuals involved. The guilt for it must be shared by many. The lesson of Auschwitz is to question how all of this was able to happen at all, and to understand not just the technology and logistics of death, but also the circumstances in which these evils can gain a foothold and flourish. We must be ever vigilant that laws and institutions protecting human rights are not eroded in the name of expediency, fear, nationalism, religion, false science, or profit.
L. Baker, Edmonton, Canada
We have learnt the lesson but human beings seem unable to stop repeating the horror be it in Cambodia, Rwanda or Chechnya. The world should have hunted down every extermination camp guard and tried them. We must not stop seeking justice for those survivors of the more recent holocausts. Do this, try and punish the torturers and murderers and then we may say we have learnt form the murder of all those poor people who died at the hands of the perpetrators and their evil sympathizers.
Philip O'Donnell, Auckland, New Zealand
I believe that in many countries school education has failed to teach us young people the truth about the Holocaust. How are we to prevent it from happening again, if we don't know about our past or present? The percentage of young people reading serious news papers is extremely low, and school books are often misleading, showing everything in black and white. Sadly, Anti-Semitism and racism never were inventions of the Nazi, and many countries collaborated happily with Nazi Germany! Who tells us about that? We cannot change history, but we could learn from it!
Olivia, London, UK
The problem with the holocaust is that it is so terrible, so evil and so enormous that we can't imagine something on such a scale ever happening again. We gasp at the ignorance and collusion of ordinary people at the time, certain that we wouldn't behave that way ourselves. What we haven't learned is that one life lost because of prejudice should be as shocking as 6 million lives lost. We're looking for the colossal atrocity and turning a blind eye to the smaller atrocities that happen daily. The Holocaust started with the murder of one person and that is worth remembering.
Lorraine, St Albans, UK
My Jewish grandfather fled the Nazis in the late 1930s in Hungary and eventually ended up in Britain. Many of his relatives were murdered at Auschwitz and the prospering family business was appropriated first by Germans and then, after the war, by Russians. Of course lessons have been learnt from the Holocaust, but I think that there always remains in every human society an element of jealousy and hatred that, if somehow allowed to express itself politically, can have terrible consequences. The challenge we face is to contain this potential for evil.
Matthew, London, UK
I'm ashamed to say I didn't 'know'. Sure, I did history at school, and I'd read that Hitler killed Jews at Auschwitz, but until the current BBC series I had no idea what it was really like. I find it horrific, deeply distressing viewing, but I must watch it, as we must never forget. Atrocities in Rwanda and Bosnia show we have not learnt all there is to learn. And, I pray that I am never in the position in which I turn the other cheek because of fear or ignorance.
Caroline Wragg-Jones, Cinderford, Glos
The world is good at listening and talking but pretty poor at learning. Look at the atrocities that took place in the Balkans only a few years ago when the veneer of civilisation was scraped off. Genocide is still happening in Africa and Asia. The chief cause is tyrannical politicians but, as history shows, the people follow!
Jim Kirk, Basildon UK
Rwanda and Sudan have shown we still have an awful lot to learn. Auschwitz should never be forgotten, nor should the horrors that went on inside its walls. Hopefully education can stop such evil.
Tim, Lancashire, UK
As a 19 year old I was hitchhiking around Europe with a friend. A middle aged German man picked us up and after a few minutes asked us if we would have time for him to take us to see something important. We agreed and it turned out to be Dachau. He stood and looked with us. Although mid summer no birds sang. The silence is what I remember most and the courage of the man to show us what he was obviously so ashamed of.
Clive Bailey, Spain
When a leader starts speaking of the superiority of his nation over all others and how he's going to change the world, then alarm bells should be ringing loudly. The biggest lesson to learn is that people should stop being sheep and following such leaders blindly. Their ideological clap-trap plant the seeds of historical disasters of monumentally tragic proportions. On that note, no, nothing has been learnt.
No, we have not. Many people do not know what Auschwitz is. I admit that it is hard to imagine and understand the violence and cruelty of the Nazi regime, not seeing the death camp, but it is our duty to know about it. I was there many times. Every visit in Auschwitz is a lesson and a warning. It should not happen ever again because human rights are fundamental.
I believe that the lessons have been learned. There is a stark contrast between racism and a systematic attempt to wipe out an entire race. You need to visit Auschwitz to appreciate the scale of this atrocity, and you need to speak to people who experienced this. I have done both - one of my friends still carries the number on her arm from her time at Auschwitz. Anyone who tries to compare modern events to the scale of the Holocaust does not understand just what these atrocities were about. Visit it. Look at the ashes in the lake. Look at the piles of hair and the shoes. The birds do not sing in that terrible place. We have learned - but at what cost?
One of my grandfathers died in Bergen-Belsen. He was a Greek accused for being "a communist helping the Resistance". My grandmother had to raise 2 small kids all by herself...I don't know why I am writing this, maybe just to honour the memory of
the grandfather I never got to meet. Have we learned? I am afraid not, look at the world around you. As a final note: people should not forget, and should not tolerate any
sermons of racism or hatred. Never again.
Georgios, Toronto, Canada/Crete, Greece
After visiting Auschwitz in December I have to say that you can't start to comprehend what went on until you see the place. People walk round almost as if they were shell shocked, traumatised by the experience. Perhaps all the world leaders should visit the museum, see the sacks of hair, the broken glasses. And then when they walk around Birkenau they can realise what is really important in life.
David Gibson, Edinburgh, Scotland
We have learnt not to massacre the Jews, Poles, Roma, Communists and Gays. Instead we help with the massacre of Cambodians, Rwandans, Muslims, and the systematic extermination of Indigenous Peoples. The gas chambers may have gone but the slaughter continues.
James Scobbie, Scotland
Those who actually care have learned from Auschwitz. The problem is the world is still full of individuals who either lack the stomach to fight such atrocities or think that negotiating with tyrants will work. For both, history has proven them wrong. Putting faith in a paper tiger like the UN will never deter the ambition of those in pursuit of evil deeds.
Jason, Louisville, USA
No, as long as we indulge in 'group' politics we are still in danger of regression into barbarism. Consider people as individuals, not as part of a mass.
Gordon McStraun, UK
Maybe we need to forget in order to prevent.
Will, Tokoyo, Japan
Let's remember that Hitler did not act alone: "normal" people Germans, Poles and French carried out his orders to round up, deport and kill Jews. Everybody concerned should read the book "Hitler's Willing Executioners". Not soldiers in jackboots, but grocery owners and such were quick to denounce Jews, to chase them in the woods gleefully, as if going on a merry rabbit hunt. Sometimes for financial rewards, most times just out of hatred and "banalization of evil" as Hannah Arendt put it. Nothing has been learned, anti-Semitism is rampant.
Isa Mara Lando, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Bosnia, Rwanda, Somalia, Darfur all tell me that the lessons of Auschwitz were never learnt. Oh, how so unfortunate an anniversary.
Peter Wanyonyi, Nairobi, Kenya
Why are there not similar days to remember the millions of people who lives were affected by the weapons of mass destruction used by the Americans on Nagasaki and Hiroshima? Even today babies are born in the region with severe disabilities caused by the deadly gases and nerve agents used by the US. It seems that we are selective about what should be remembered. It was only 60 years ago that similar propaganda was used to brainwash an entire country into believing that the Jewish race is not worth respecting.
Sam, Slough, UK
I would like someone to inform me as to what lesson we are all supposed to have learnt. If there was not a concerted effort to keep this piece of history alive it would be almost forgotten. Like the world seems to do over the plight of Africans in peace time when most of these tens of thousands who die monthly from preventative diseases are ignored. What happened was terrible but surely the plight of the living is more important than remembering the dead.
Mike, Stratford- on-Avon UK
Looking at the number of refugee camps around the world, and the state certain countries are in, it's obvious that Auschwitz is considered ancient history and irrelevant by those in power around the world.
Hani, London, UK
Nothing has been learnt. There were death camps in former Yugoslavia in the 90s, look at the Middle East and some countries in Africa how human beings treat human beings. And usually it's done in the name of religion.
Volker, London, England
Many have learned the lessons from Auschwitz. Too many have not. Especially wider implications of the Auschwitz experience have been overlooked.
Robert L Baber, Limerick, Ireland
Having been witness to events around the globe, there is no difference between the world then and now. Rwanda, Congo, Darfur are all cases of genocide. The Balkans, South America with operation Condor. And the world turns a blind eye. We haven't learnt and we will never learn, not until we teach our children not to judge but to accept people as they are.
Douglas Anderson, Cape Town, South Africa
I wish the answer to this question was a resounding YES, but unfortunately the opposite is true. It is very apparent that this is a very important issue. It all boils down to who does one place their trust in? If we cannot trust one another, then we are doomed to repeat our past.
GG, Vancouver, WA, USA
Only when we stop thinking and talking in large numbers and start thinking and talking about individual human beings will we have truly learned the lessons of the Holocaust.
Derek Blyth, Hatfield, Hertfordshire
As a child in the US forties, I went to school with refugees, some Jewish children, some German who escaped the Soviets in WWII. The thing my father, a teacher, showed me, was that "they are just like us, both sides". The meaning was, it could happen to anyone, if we forget. "Good people" were fooled or intimidated into doing horrible things, good Jewish people were made scapegoats and killed. As Martin Luther among many others said, "an injustice anywhere is in injustice everywhere".
K C, USA
Hearing intelligent, reasonably well educated, fundamentally decent Britons who would ferociously deny that they're racist fulminating against asylum seekers and displaying their resentment of having to be sensitive to the feelings of ethnic minorities has shown me that we have not learned a damn thing. It's still too easy to fall into knee-jerk reaction, to believe that we're being done out of our limited resources and discriminated against, even when the evidence clearly shows the opposite.
People think that fascism and neo-Nazism come neatly uniformed with SS tags and jack-boots, but it begins with the subtle, with what "everyone knows", and freedoms are lost one at a time - people don't wake up one day to find a totalitarian regime has been installed overnight; they wake up one day and realise that the nightmare crept up on them, seducing them over a long period of time with "common sense" and unexamined assumptions about quick solutions to complex problems.
Kaz, Briton in NJ, USA
It is very important that the Jewish people are given the respect to mourn their dead and left to remember love ones murdered by the Nazis, especially the 1,500,000 children under 12 years old. It may be world history but the wounds are still open and will take many generations to heal. There has been many attempts to include other genocides and even equate Israelis treatment of Palestinians, as if other groups feel hard done by that the fact 6 million Jews were butchered because of their race, and Jews get too much sympathy, as they should. Using this tragedy for political gains is no way to pay tribute to the victims of genocide; we can find other days to remember such events.
This should never ever happen again as Mr Kofi Anan said. This day should be remembered and should serve as a warning to everyone. We must live in peace.
Simply put, no. The fact that genocide (albeit on smaller scales) continues the world over is evidence. Of course, the language is dressed up to make it seem more presentable: 'ethnic cleansing' for example. This makes no difference: mass murder is mass murder.
Dave Bowling, UK
No, not with many people simply blaming social problems on minorities (e.g. Muslims in the Netherlands, Roma in Slovakia, Chinese in Indonesia), like the Nazis did with the Jews (and homosexuals, Roma, etc. etc.)
Johan, The Netherlands
We will never learn. Always there will be somebody who thinks he has an enforceable idea of freedom and good for other people. That is how it all starts. We have to do our utmost continuously to watch ourselves not falling in this trap and again having to face the pain, sorrow and regret. It is a continuous balancing act between the ideologies of real good and fake good.
Miklos Nomad, Gyor, Hungary
I think that Elie Wiesel is wrong. As a world we have not forgotten Auschwitz, on the contrary perhaps we remember it and its associated imagery too vividly. In our minds I think that we diminish the atrocities in Darfur, Cambodia etc because they do not quite bare comparison with the first world, industrial extermination practised at Auschwitz. In a world where "most" and "worst" are the adjectives most likely to lead to action we must find a way to honour the victims of Auschwitz without using them as the standard against which we judge all others.
Remembering Auschwitz almost seems to be used as reassurance that this happened 60 years ago and that a repeat would never be possible today. However, I wouldn't be surprised that if it were possible to calculate how many civilian mass graves have been discovered in that same time span in the present, let's say between 1993 until today, that figure would be similar.
Ed Karten, London, England
Have we learnt the lessons of Auschwitz? Depends on who "we" are. America had to twice go across the Atlantic to stop smaller genocides taking place in Europe after WW 2 (Bosnia and Kosovo). America also stepped in to stop Saddam Hussein, a dictator who gassed people and sent them to mass graves. So I would say America has most definitely learned from Auschwitz. Now as for whether or not "we" the Europeans have learned the lessons of Auschwitz, that's another story. Europeans sat idly by as Milosevic's thugs massacred Bosnians and Kosovars. Europeans drew absurd colonial boundaries in the third world, and then lifted nary a finger when the tribes they stuck together within these boundaries began to massacre one another. So if the question is have "we" learnt the lessons of Auschwitz, one needs to consider who is meant by "we" before answering.
Nathaniel, Houston, Texas, USA
Europe has learned from Auschwitz, there is no present genocide within the EU. Africa is still dealing with its genocides, it can only learn from them when they are over - like Europe has.
Philip Pike, Colchester
This anniversary is a chance to remember that human rights are fundamental. That the moment we sideline those rights we have lost the freedom and humanity we strive for. That we cannot tolerate the violation of a single human being's rights under any circumstances and cannot look away when faced with such violations.
Ross, Glasgow, UK
For us, the Jewish people, Auschwitz, as well as the current rise in anti-Semitism worldwide, serve as reminders that we must have and protect our own independent state - the State of Israel. It is the only place in the world where we can govern our own fate, however difficult the task may be...
No, apparently nothing has been learnt. The world after Auschwitz must be against racism in general and not only against racism against the Jews, and against genocide in general not only against genocide against the Jews, and against humiliation of other people not only against humiliation of the Jewish people. Israel has no privilege in that context.
George Nasser, Bethlehem, Palestine
Due to fear and uncertainty prejudice, isolation, and ignorance can turn to violence and brutality. No nation or people are immune from this. I am absolutely convinced that only the formation of a strong World Governing Body founded on law and empowered with the will and means to enforce it will end this crime for all time.
John, Bloomfield, NJ, USA
Despite further incidents of genocide in Rwanda, Bosnia, the Sudan, and other areas being extremely well documented, the perpetrators, although tried and convicted have been given what appear to be light sentences. If you are convicted of genocide (i.e. mass murder), you get 10 years in prison; if you are convicted of a single murder in a regular court, you are likely to be sentenced to life in prison. So mass murder in a political or ethnic dispute is not as serious a crime as murder for profit or for personal motives - at least that is the way it appears.
Dave Woods, Cleveland/USA
Auschwitz must be a place of pilgrimage for all of us, irrespective of faith. Once in our lives, as human beings, we should go there, and to Birkenau, or to the other camps that remain. By doing so, we make a conscious effort to remember the almost bland way in which the state and people, ordinary people, can be complicit in acts of unspeakable horror.
Tony Sheehan, Cork, Ireland
Recent surveys have found that around 60% of British people do not know what Auschwitz is and 15% think that the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust has been exaggerated! Therefore we have clearly not learnt the lessons of the past. What has happened is that the world has become scared to act. How many hundreds of thousands would have been saved if the West (and that includes the Europeans) would have sent troops to Sudan, Rwanda etc. If anything the Holocaust shows us that the strong must protect the weak from the aggressors.
James, London, UK
I visited the Holocaust Museum a few years ago. The short films and pictures leave you speechless. Their black and white images show as close as possible the horrors suffered. I pray and hope that lessons can be learnt, we need to make sure it cannot happen on this scale again.
Simon, Birmingham, UK
The lesson from Auschwitz is that pre-emptive military action against nations that show little threat to you is right if they are committing state genocide.
Mike Richmond, Guildford, England
No. While help for others is conditional, based on profit, greed, power, and conformity to man's idea of what is right and wrong in religious doctrine, the same conditions that bred the ideology of Nazism will remain. Humanity belongs to all of us, regardless of border, country, religion and nationality. Until we have the courage to commit both political and religious leaders to the rule of law for violations of moral and human decency, the rift between the haves and have nots will continue to widen. As long as we allow these so called leaders to use the semantics of politics or religion to avoid responsibility for their actions, we increase the chance for massive crimes against others.
Alex, Moscow, Russia
The Nazi preoccupation with blaming their ills on certain groups of people is still alive and kicking today. Check out Mugabe and the whites, The African Church and Gay people, Islam and the USA, not forgetting our own conservative party and Asylum seekers.
Barry Lowry, Hornchurch UK
The current view appears to be that if we don't build concentration camps, and vote for outrageous politicians with ridiculous moustaches, then we will be okay. The true lesson is this: the next time a politician identifies enemies of the state, external or internal (as Hitler did with the Jews, or as the Hutu majority did with the Tutsis in Rwanda), pause a while before running the flag up the pole and saluting it. As a citizen of that country, ask yourself: whose interest does it serve, the politician's or mine?
Francis King, Southampton, UK
It's difficult to believe that the top allied leaders were complicit in the extermination from at least 1941. The Allies had first hand accounts from escapees, could read the German high command top secret correspondences and had Hess to fill in all the details. No camps were bombed. No railways to the camps were bombed. However, there were plenty of bombs for German cities like Dresden. History is what's written by the winners.
Ray Bodlak, Chicago USA
Humanity learns nothing that doesn't make money or power, the rest is of no importance.
Mark, Sussex, UK
We have not learnt the lessons of Auschwitz! There is no debate about that. But, is it only from Auschwitz that we have to learn? What about the Armenian Genocide; what about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, etc.? If we had learnt the lessons of Auschwitz, the US invasion of Iraq would never have been possible!
Endalamaw, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
I think not, judging by the adverse reaction from half the world press when a superpower does finally step in to deal with a mass-murdering regime. Dealing with such regimes is a nasty, bloody business, but if it succeeds in the longer term then it must be worth the effort.
Ron Levy, Rayleigh, UK
How can we have learnt the lessons of Auschwitz when so many young people have never even heard of it? I
Ralph, Sunbury, UK
The fact that the world is sitting by why thousands are being killed in Sudan proves, without any doubt, that we have learnt nothing.
Duncan, Richmond, VA, USA
Unfortunately, not yet. Even the Israeli government hasn't learnt the lessons properly.
Mustafa Yorumcu, UK/Turkey
Never again... Until the next time, Rwanda, Sudan, etc.
Steve Mac, Boston MA, USA
By the mere fact that a staggeringly large percentage of people under 35 are reported not to have even heard of Auschwitz, sadly, do we even need to ask the question? The general feeling of apathy has reached endemic proportions and the 'I'm all right Jack' attitude ever more obvious.
Dee, Basel, Switzerland
Learnt the lessons? Hardly. Since 1945 there has been Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Iraq, and most recently Darfur. None of these events may have been as dramatic in terms of numbers killed, but they come, and they go and whilst there's a furore at the time nothing ever really happens to stop such atrocities once and for all.
Andrew Taylor, Nottingham, UK
Hatred for those different to us is an integral aspect of humans...something we have still not evolved out of.
Akshay Misra, Newcastle, UK/ Dubai, UAE
No, as long as we fail to inform the youth of Europe. The UN is corrupt and chooses to be powerless to prevent smaller repetitions even today: Bosnia, Rwanda, Sudan. Why is there no plan for a silence on Thursday? Or are more than 6 million Jews, many millions of Slavs and others less important than modern Europeans drowned in Asia?
John Murray, London UK
Well, another topic on the Talking Point home page is about Guantanamo Bay. Now, I'm not trying to claim that the two are close, but Camp X-Ray is a place where people have been detained without the usually accepted standards of rights, and largely on a ethnic/religious basis. Therefore, I regard Guantanamo Bay as being a distance along the tracks which, eventually, could lead back to Auschwitz. Doesn't seem like we have learnt the lesson.
Jon G, Huddersfield UK
Maybe we have learnt the lessons, but we need to be reminded of them from time to time. Man's injustice to his fellow man still continues.
Graham Rodhouse, Helmond
The Germans have taken concrete steps to acknowledge and remember the mistakes made. The Japanese however still refuse to acknowledge the atrocities committed by their soldiers during the 2nd world war, right until this day. A generation of Japanese grew up thinking they were all clean.
J Y, Singapore
Let's hope it doesn't happen again, but there are a lot of crazy people in the world. Anything can happen if too much power is in the wrong hands.
The difference between then and now is that the Holocaust was geographically concentrated while nowadays atrocities are spread across the globe. As long as we are unable to prevent or to stop such horrendous acts we can't say the lesson has been learnt. I am afraid that our record of the past 60 years is extremely poor, since the list is frightfully long: the Gulag, Srebrenica and Vukovar, Darfur, northern Iraq, Uganda, Burundi, DR Congo, etc.
Mary McCannon, Budapest, Hungary
I visited Auschwitz on a school trip a few years ago, and it was the most harrowing experience of my life. I defy anyone to walk along the train tracks from the crematoria to the gate of Birkenau and not decide that this must never, ever happen again. It's a godless, soulless place and we owe it to future generations not to let hatred rule again.
Ed, London, UK
Did the world act to prevent ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia, genocide in Rwanda, and is the world effectively dealing with the situation in Sudan? If the clear answer to these questions is no, then the lessons of Auschwitz have not been learned.
If anything, some regimes have learnt the very worst lessons from the Holocaust, and are implementing them as we casually discuss the issue.
Lee, Hebburn, England
It is intolerable to think that these lessons could have been forgotten, especially within living memory. Any group or regime, and they are still numerous, that perpetrates persecution based on race, religion, sex, sexual preference, or any other of the excuses used for hatred should be ashamed. But that's the problem, they aren't, and we can't stop them without becoming them. History will, as ever, repeat itself.
We've learnt that these things happen when people keep silent about injustice and evil behaviour. We have not learned to avoid shameful silence.
John, Fleet, UK
We can only hope.
Gavin Clarke, Portsmouth, England
If we had learnt the lessons of Auschwitz, would we have allowed genocide to occur so many times throughout the 20th century? It is clearly vital to remember the murder of the Jews (and others) by the Nazis in the Second World War. However, we should also recognize that ethnic cleansing is based upon a disregard for the fundamental rights of other humans, and that any country that does this should be suitably re-educated by humanity!! Just not through war- as Isaac Asimov said "violence is the last resort of the ignorant"...
Ben Bromilow, London
We would like to think we had learned but, I fear, the truth is very different. When one looks around the world and sees the recent Balkan wars, Rwanda, religious fatwas etc, one cannot help feeling that hatred and bigotry are parts of the human condition. They will always be with us - and if that is the case, the potential for another holocaust will never go away.
Nigel Cubbage, Redhill, UK
No, not when a son of an ex-refugee starts spouting about limiting refugees.
Srebrenica, Abu Ghraib, Rwanda and Darfur. If there is anything that we have learned from Auschwitz, then it would be the distinction between right and wrong. What we still have to learn is how to respond to such atrocities in a prompt, responsible and humane way.
Fraser Irving, Sheffield, UK
Fraser Irving, Sheffield, UK- many thousands died in Srebrenica, well over a million in Rwanda and in Darfur its 50,000 and rising fast. By comparison a few Iraqi prisoners were beaten up & photographed in Abu Ghraib. Clearly you are unaware of how truly horrific Auschwitz was if you think Abu Ghraib is similar. Only one power in Iraq believed in gassing minority races and it isn't the Americans.
No I don't think we have. You only have to look back over the last 10 to 15 years to see that mass genocide is still part of the world today. I think we are more aware of it through the media, but it still happens and we still allow it to happen. This is where the UN's and peace keeping roles are ambiguous they should have the power to prevent not just to observe.
Robert Askew, Stevenage, UK