Australian High Court justice Michael Kirby is quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald in a speech promoting the launch of Heirloom, a new anthology of Holocaust survivor memories:
Justice Kirby said an early lesson is that "every diminution of freedom takes us in a wrong direction.
"Every act of discrimination by our Parliament and governments dishonours our nation. We honour the memories recorded in this book most worthily when we resolve to respect the freedoms and dignity of all people and to be vigilant for our own."
Understanding the lesson began with appreciating the stealth of the Holocaust, which had not appeared overnight. "It all happened gradually. It crept up insidiously."
There were laws, followed by yellow stars and banishment to the back of the tram. Step by step came exclusion from public transport, closure of businesses, consignment to the ghetto, the beatings and cries of Jews out!, the selective deportations and the "final solution".
He was undoubtedly referring to the conservative Australian government's treatment of religious minorities and unjust incarceration of middle eastern refugees. The lesson here is not lost. Smaller injustices left unchallenged lead inevitiably to larger ones down the line, as society becomes increasingly innoculated to what is going on.
As Kirby points out, the middle classes of Nazi Germany who allowed the holocaust to happen with nary a protest were mostly good people with 'family values'. They "returned to their homes and children at night, attended meticulously to their hygiene and settled down to listen to beloved recordings of Schubert and Beethoven that made them cry."
Tip of the hat to Jeffrey at Mahler's Prodigal Son.