Updated: Mar 26
What does it feel like to reveal a bitter truth after hiding it for 3 decades? Remorse, Regret, Shame, Gilt are the few words that come to mind. The kind of reaction or feeling whom you ask this question. The genocide of Jews in Nazi Germany only came to light after the world war II was over. When the footages of Jewish people in the concentration camps were shown to German POW (Prisoners of War), Nazi Officials, many of them are believed to have cried and hung their heads in shame. The daring mission of kidnapping of Eichmann by Israel secret service Mossad and the subsequent broadcast of Eichmann’s trail in Tel Aviv has left a long-lasting memory on the world about the Jewish suffering. Today Holocaust denial in Germany is a crime and all the atrocities committed against Jews were well documented through Holocaust museums and educated through history lessons in the school.
Many Historians, wealthy patrons and Creative artists had to come together to tell the story of Jewish suffering to the world. The result is that World has accepted the Holocaust and the Jewish suffering as real. This did not happen in one day or one year. It took considerable amount of time and consistent effort from many people to make world realize it. Many path breaking movies, documentaries and research work by scholars and historians had to be made over time in addition to countering the deniers and opposing from the system. In this regard movies are a great means to influence the society especially when it comes to portraying human suffering. One such movie that has a set a precedent for the film industry is “Schindler’s List” by Steven Spielberg. Steven Spielberg is considered an epitome of creative genius and has won many accolades dealing with diverse topics through movies. On the other hand he as a jew discharged his moral responsibility towards his community by creating this master piece earning name and fame for his work. Through “Schindler’s list” Spielberg was able to portray the human suffering in such a way that anyone regardless of their faith and beliefs can connect to it. Thus, it became a yard stick for the movies to come in future that portray human suffering and tragedy.
Many a times genocides come to light only after they had happened. Be it the Armenian genocide by Turkey, Jewish Holocaust by Nazis, Rwandan genocide, Yazidi genocides by the ISIS, Bangladeshi genocide by Pakistan, the world get to know of them only after they were committed by the perpetrators of the crime. Religion, ideology, ethnicity, nationality are believed to be some of the motives for the genocides. It is only through witnesses that such inhuman acts come to the attention of the world. The weight of being a witness to a Genocide weighs more than being a part of the killed. The trauma that manifests in the victims and witnesses in the worst level of trauma exposure, psychopathology, and risk factors for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in survivors in the genocide as well as in their respective descendants cannot be described in words.
More than trauma, negation of the topic by the system they live can wreck havoc in the survivors of the genocide. People who experience trauma often don't discuss it until long after the incident has occurred. A lack of empathy is part of the reason. Therefore the onus is upon the society to take care of such victims and document their suffering. It does not stop there, it has to be echoed through books, movies and all forms of artifacts that teach the future generations to learn from the past. In this regard movies are the best forms of medium to convey the message. Any movie is nothing but narrating a story through reenactment. Every story needs a listener and a storyteller (the person who witnessed the genocide). What if the community that were the victims were not heard and negated by the society and system that they live in?
There are enough number of such examples through out the history. One recent example is “Kashmiri Hindu Genocide” that took place three decades ago. Many people not just in the west but also in India were in denial of Genocide of Kashmir Files until the movie “Kashmir Files” were released on 11.03.2022. Though released directly in theatres it had modest innings at the box office on the first day and soon joined 30 million dollars club in the Bollywood film Industry. Unlike the happy go lucky kind of stories, family-oriented Bollywood movies that were quite popular among German audience in late 2000’s, Kashmir Files has become a hallmark of Indian Cinema. It is not considered just a movie anymore but rather a revolution in Indian society. The movie has brought the suffering of Kashmir Hindus in Kashmir because of Islamic extremism to the fore and set a stage for public debate in the Indian society.
The subject has become a hot topic of discussion not just in India but throughout the world, the movie has been successfully screening for the last 12 days and has proved to be blockbuster at the box office despite of lack of star cast. Interestingly, the movie has been received well even in a country like Germany where majority of its people are not aware of Kashmiri Hindu genocide. The biased political news and views produced by mainstream German media and its prejudice towards India almost always never shed light on the Islamic extremism in Kashmir, India nor did it bothered to provide coverage to the Hindu Genocide and the plight of Hindus around the world due to the Islamic extremism.
Historians established the fact that once a Hindu majority Kashmir was converted by force through many centuries and thus Hindus became minority in their own land. The movie deals with the harsh reality of the Kashmiris as it is. The director Vivek Agnihotri was bold enough to tackle this non negated topic through his creative story telling. Many of the incidents in “Kashmir Files” had happened in real. The entire crew of Kashmir files have put years of research work interviewing thousands of victims who were witnesses of the Kashmiri Hindu massacre. As it is difficult to portray every victim’s story on the silver screen, the director did a splendid job by narrating a common plot where major events, massacres are interwoven during the Kashmiri Hindu Genocide. The story line oscillates between past, and the present narrated through a gripping, heart wrenching secret about the death of protagonist’s family. If you have not watched “Kashmir Files”, then get yourself ready to know the unheard genocide of Kashmiri Hindus this weekend. It is being played across Germany in more than 30+ cities. The burden of being a witness to a genocide weighs more than being among the victims of it.
“People who experience trauma often don't discuss it until long after the incident has occurred. A lack of empathy is part of the reason”
Author: Kiran Kishore Gandikota
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