Before the Holocaust there was the Merchant of Venice, before the Merchant of Venice there was the Spanish Inquisition, before the Spanish Inquisition there was the Simon of Trent, and before the Simon of Trent there was the Black Death, before the Black Death there were the Crusaders…
The book Trent 1475 documents the proceedings of a blood libel case in Trento, Italy in the year 1475. A Christian boy was found dead and his Jewish neighbours were framed for it. This child, Simon, was once considered a martyr being killed in a ritual murder. His case contributed to anti-Semitism in the European history, which reached its apex in the Holocaust – six million Jews were murdered in that horrific genocide. Eventually, in 1965, Pope Paul VI removed Simon from the Roman Martyrology.
History doesn’t exist in a vacuum. We do not exist in a vacuum. To understand the present we have to consult the past. And history is not just ink printed on dead trees, it is about real living human beings and all that surround them. Nor it just one subject in the school curriculum, for it may lend itself to the betterment of us as individuals and as a species, if we are to pay attention. Paraphrasing George Santayana, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
The question is, have we started learning?