Was It Satan’s Century?
“AT ITS worst, this has been Satan’s century. In no previous age have people shown so great an aptitude, and appetite, for killing millions of other people for reasons of race, religion or class.”
The 50th anniversary of the liberation of innocent victims imprisoned in the Nazi death camps prompted the foregoing comment in an editorial in The New York Times of January 26, 1995. The Holocaust—one of the most widely known genocides in history—exterminated some six million Jews. Nearly three million non-Jewish Polish citizens perished in what has been termed the “Forgotten Holocaust.”
“An estimate for the period from 1900 until 1989 is that war killed 86 million people,” says Jonathan Glover in his book Humanity—A Moral History of the Twentieth Century. He adds: “Death in twentieth-century war has been on a scale which is hard to grasp. Any averaging out of the numbers of deaths is artificial, since about two-thirds (58 million) were killed in the two world wars. But, if these deaths had been spread evenly over the period, war would have killed around 2,500 people every day, That is over 100 people an hour, round the clock, for ninety years.”
Consequently, the 20th century has been called one of the bloodiest centuries humanity has ever known. In Hope Against Hope, Nadezhda Mandelstam writes: “We have seen the triumph of evil after the values of humanism have been vilified and trampled on.” In the struggle of good against evil, has evil really won?
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COVER: Mother and daughter: J.R. Ripper/SocialPhotos
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U.S. Department of Energy photograph