Today, January 27, is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is a day dedicated to remembering the atrocities of the Holocaust, with the ultimate goal being that the memory of these crimes will, hopefully, enable us to prevent such a tragedy from occurring again in the future. It is important that today we take a moment to reflect on the history of the Holocaust and how this day came to be.
The Holocaust was the systematic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its allies. Nearly 2 out of every 3 European Jews were killed. Other groups who were targeted for persecution included Roma, people with disabilities, Slavic peoples, and homosexuals, to name a few. People were rounded up and sent to Nazi concentration camps on cattle-car trains where they were either immediately killed or forced to live and work in horrific conditions. It was, in short, genocide fueled by racism and oppression.
January 27 was specifically chosen by the United Nations to commemorate the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, one of the most notorious concentration camps. This year, 2020, marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. The International Holocaust Remembrance Day was launched by the Holocaust and United Nations Outreach Programme in 2006 through the passing of United Nations General Assembly Resolution 60/7. The resolution rejects any denial of the Holocaust as an historical event, either in full or in part, and commends nations that have actively engaged in the preservation of sites once used as Nazi death camps, concentration camps, forced labor camps, and prisons during the Holocaust. In 2006, the first ceremony drew over 2,200 people, and was viewed by countless others globally via webcast and live television broadcast.
Regarding the importance of this program, the United Nations says: “The Programme works to ensure the voices of survivors are heard and heeded as warning against the consequences of anti-Semitism, racism and other forms of discrimination and prejudice. The disturbing spread of neo-Nazism and other extremist groups and the growing climate of intolerance and anti-Semitism makes the work of the Programme particularly urgent. Through its educational activities about the Holocaust, the Programme calls on all generations to use their voice to stand up for human rights, challenge discrimination, anti-Semitism and racism, and defend essential democratic values in their communities.”
While the United States does participate in International Holocaust Remembrance Day, it also has the Days of Remembrance between April 28 and May 5. These days serve as the annual commemoration of the Holocaust in the US.
The Holocaust was a devastating and tragic series of events that should have never occurred. The world began to say the phrase “never again” after these events—and we need to remain constantly vigilant and outspoken to ensure they never do.
Today, in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, please take a moment to reflect on the global impact of the Holocaust. Do some research using reputable sources, such as on the websites for the UN or the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Read books on the subject. At Star Bright Books, we’ve published books such as Hidden Letters, Lonek’s Journey, Defying the Nazis, and I Only See the Person in Front of Me, which all provide different perspectives of the Holocaust. Watch a Holocaust documentary or videos of survivors talking about their experiences. Have a discussion with family and about the Holocaust, what it was, and why we remember it. If you can, go to a Holocaust Remembrance event near you.
We will never forget.