The Holocaust, a day of remembrance

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Aaron Montoya
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs
Air Force members are constantly striving to further their education, whether it be the next step toward their degree or for knowledge of important historical events that have shaped the world as we know it today.

The German Air Force Flying Training Center and Holloman invited Dr. Gail Wallen, founder and director of the military holocaust education program to speak to military members and a group of advanced placement history students from Alamogordo High School. Along with her were Theresa Dulgov and Lily Brull, both Holocaust survivors.

"There is a mandate that all U.S. military bases and all ships at sea will do a Holocaust day of remembrance, so we put together this program that was specifically designed for military Holocaust education, this program has been going on since 2002," said Wallen.

Wallen gave a detailed explanation of the events that took place during the Holocaust, her two guests then told their personal experiences of living through the tragedy as well. Wallen firmly believes that educating people about the Holocaust is very important.

"Silence is an acquiescence," said Wallen. "We have to speak out in the face of hatred and oppression. I believe this generation is going to play a very important role in making sure that 'never again' truly means never again."

The opportunity to hear first-hand stories from the survivors was an appreciated opportunity for both the survivors and the attendees.

"I have two sections of advanced placement history students, so I jumped on the chance to do this," said Tina Koltz, history teacher at Alamogordo High School. "This is such a great benefit for the students educationally."

The survivors shared a similar sentiment as they believe that it is very important to educate the younger generations.

"I think it's marvelous because I don't think that younger people really understand what it was like living through the Holocaust," said Dulgov. "I need them to see and believe that this is what really happened, and to educate them about this tragedy."

Wallen created the military holocaust education program to ensure the military's requirement to hold a Holocaust day of remembrance is done due justice and so survivors could tell their own stories instead of participants just learning a portion of the historical details.

"I think the military plays a very pivotal role. In Germany, the military's allegiance became instrumental to the execution of Hitler's plan," said Wallen. "You owe your allegiance to a piece of paper called the Constitution of the United States. You are the gate keepers of democracy, it is your responsibility to protect and defend those who cannot defend themselves."

For military members and young students alike, education is a very effective tool to have in your life. The participants at this day of remembrance were given a unique view of the Holocaust, one that cannot be learned from a text book.

"I find that it is very important because of the things that happen in this world, people need to be informed," said Brull. "The best information you can get is from personal accounts."

Only when the lessons of history are properly understood, can the cycle of ignorance and intolerance that lead to such atrocities be broken.
"Please know that your role is precious and very important, it is why you fight," said Wallen.