Students at Barnesville High School commemorated the victims of the Holocaust on April 24. Students wore patches in honor of those persecuted by Hitler’s regime. During the Holocaust Jews, Jehovah Witnesses, Gypsies, Homosexuals, Political Opponents, and others were forced to wear patches identifying them as belonging to groups persecuted by Hitler’s government. Many students wore the yellow Star of David which the Jews under Nazi rule had to wear or face execution for refusing to do so. Jehovah Witnesses wore purple triangular patches, they refused to swear allegiance to Hitler or to serve in the German military. Homosexuals were persecuted by the regime as well for their life style which the regime viewed as deviant. Catholic priest who the regime had problems with were often identified as homosexuals in order, in the eyes of the regime, to legitimize their persecution and incarceration in concentration camps.
The first official concentration camp opened by the Nazis was Dachau. Dachau was established on the 20th of March 1933. It would be populated in part by communist who had been arrested shortly after the February fire that struck the Reichstag in Berlin. This fire was blamed on the Communist, though some believe the Nazis themselves may have been responsible for the inferno. Shortly after this event the Reichstag passed the Enabling Act which gave Hitler dictatorial powers. Dachau was just the beginning of the concentration camp system and it would serve as a model for other camps. BHS has a replica of one of the gates from a concentration on the second floor of the High School. The persecution of the groups mentioned here and others would continue throughout the war.
Each year students at BHS honor the victims of the Holocaust and condemn intolerance of others. Students have produced posters that also commemorate the victims and their suffering during this period. This commemoration is meant to promote tolerance and to point out that the hatred which fuels such acts as the Holocaust is not absent from our own times. Within the last couple of years Neo-Nazi groups have appeared promoting intolerance and aiming their hatred at many of the same groups victimized by Hitler’s regime. Here at BHS, our students take a stand against those who would act out of hatred or would promote intolerance.