International Holocaust Remembrance Day
On January 27 the world commemorates the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a United Nations observance that honors and remembers the tragedy of the Holocaust, and the millions of people who lost their lives at the hands of the Nazi government.
Holocaust Remembrance Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly on November 1, 2005, with the resolution 60/7. The idea for this day came after the commemorations of the 60th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust and the liberation of Nazi concentration camps. These commemorations took place earlier in the year, on January 24, 2005.
This resolution encourages all member states of the United Nations to remember the victims of the Holocaust, establish educational programs about the history of the Holocaust, teach people about the devastating loss and atrocities that happened during this period, and prevent such future acts of genocide. It also highlights the importance of preserving the historical sites of the Holocaust and condemns any denial of the Holocaust.
The date chosen to observe International Holocaust Remembrance Day was January 27, because that was the day, in 1945 when Soviet troops from the Red Army liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest concentration camp operated by the Nazis.
Brief History of the Holocaust
The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, refers to the deliberate genocide of Jewish people during World War II, in Germany and German-occupied territories. Between 1941 and 1945, the Nazi regime established several concentration and death camps, whose purpose was to imprison and exterminate European Jews.
Initially, these camps were designed for all those that were thought to be "undesirable" by the regime. This included war and political prisoners, Roma people, ethnic Poles, people with disabilities, and homosexuals. Eventually, the Nuremberg Laws were enacted, and Jewish people were singled out and isolated from the rest of society. The Nazi party began by creating ghettos to segregate Jews, a move which culminated in the Final Solution - the establishment of thousands of Camps across German-occupied countries, where Jews were sent to be exterminated. It is thought that 6 million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust, and the other persecuted groups have a combined victim toll of 11 million.
The Holocaust came to an end with the victory of the Allies over the Axis during World War II, when troops from the American, British, French, and Soviet armies gradually liberated the Concentration camps in Germany and territories that had been occupied by German forces.
How to Celebrate the International Holocaust Remembrance Day
On this day, there are many events held across the World, some organized by the United Nations, where Holocaust survivors and world leaders speak publicly about their experiences during the Holocaust, the aftermath, and why it is important that we do not forget what happened during that period. There are also seminars, film screenings, and exhibitions that aim to educate more people, especially future generations, about the Holocaust to prevent something like it to happen again.
On a personal level, you can show your respect to the victims of the Holocaust and educate yourself about it by visiting Museums, watching documentaries, and reading books.
- There is The United States Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C., to which you can pay a visit if you're near.
- You can read books such as The Diary of Anne Frank or Night by Elie Wiesel, which provide first-hand accounts of what it was like to be Jewish in Nazi Germany, and concentration camps.
- The Blue Card is a nonprofit organization that supports Holocaust survivors in the United States. Consider donating to them, or volunteering your time to help one of the elderly survivors.
- In Canada, the Holocaust Museum can be found in Montreal. The museum tells the history of the Holocaust through the stories of victims and survivors. It offers free admission on the first Sunday of every month.