There are a few reasons for that.
One, I think, is morbid curiosity -- the feeling that if you watch one more special, read one more book, think just a little more psychologically, it'll actually make sense. Of course, it never will. You can rationalize it with the Treaty of Versailles, with the extreme depression in Germany -- it's common for people to point out it took a wheelbarrow full of money to buy a loaf of bred. Germans were a beaten-down people who were desperate to...yadda yadda yadda.
But 11 million people died...nothing could ever make that make sense.
Another is, more than likely, the fact that so many of my family members would have been among Hitler's victims. It's not fair, really, to the victims of the Holocaust (of all persuasions) to say that it is of more interest because it's personal, but I think sometimes that the enormity of the whole thing is so incomprehensible (how do you conceive of 11 million people in any kind of concrete way?) that it's human nature to personalize it.
There's something haunting about the Holocaust -- a surreality to it that just never goes away. Very little on TV has affected my like the dedication at the end of an episode of The Outer Limits: "Dedicated to my father, who survived Auschwitz, and to his wife and son who did not." The show was about time travel and sci-fi stuff, yes, but it was also about how the Holocaust continued to affect the main character's father -- and himself, born to the father's second wife in America. I gather from Sam Egan's dedication that the character was at least partly autobiographical.
And then there's the stories themselves. Sure, everyone has read The Diary of Anne Frank -- but I've always been fascinated by the story of Miep Gies, who -- along with her husband -- risked so much to try to save the Frank family.
Everybody has probably heard the cliche: all that is needed for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.
During the Holocaust, doing something could very well be fatal, and yet, there are many, many stories of heroes who risked everything to save who they could.
It was terribly dangerous, of course -- opposing a police state nearly always is. But some people found the courage to do something, and it always makes me wonder: in that situation, would I have had the same courage?
I don't think anyone can truly answer that question until they are faced with the circumstance, for what it's worth.
A hero died today.
The only thing I can think of to say is, it makes me think of the end of Schindler's List, where the people Schindler saved (and their descendants) pass by and put stones on his grave -- she is responsible for saving the lives not only of the actual people she saved, but for all the generations that would come after.