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The Holocaust was an unspeakable horror from WWII. After a visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. in 2006, law enforcement leaders of Yavapai County, Arizona recognized that the Holocaust is much more than a chapter from a history book. The Holocaust provides important insight into the consequences when a government shifts the mission of the police from protecting individuals to supporting the abuse of basic human rights.

How Germany changed in less than a decade from a free, democratic, and scientifically advanced society to a totalitarian regime that systematically targeted and murdered millions of its own citizens is a lesson a free society must learn. In the words of Chief Prosecutor Robert Jackson at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial in 1945, “Civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated.”

Working with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Prescott, Yavapai County law enforcement leaders offer a powerful curriculum to ensure that the core values of our democracy are upheld. “What You Do Matters” examines policing within the legal and political framework of Nazi Germany — a journey that eventually turned those who should protect life and liberty into those who intimidated, humiliated, deported, and eventually murdered millions of innocent people. Using historical images and stories from the Holocaust, trained facilitators engage students in a dialogue about the role of law enforcement in today’s communities and the importance of core values in ensuring the integrity and vibrancy of democracy.

First they came for the socialists,
and I did not speak out—
because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I did not speak out—
because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—
and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Martin Niemöller

Martin Niemöller was a prominent Protestant minister who emerged as an outspoken opponent of Adolph Hitler.