Wednesday, 27th January marked the 76th anniversary of the liberation of Holocaust prisoners. Soviet troops carried out this extraction on behalf of the allies. On this day, survivors come & remember what was. These victims visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau camps(now deserted) with their families to see how far they’ve come from those dark days.
Thus today, we look into the history of the Holocaust as well as on the Holocaust Remembrance Day. We will look at few cases. Additionally, we shall analyze this dark phase of history. Through this lens, we will look into the cons of racism and xenophobia.
WHAT WAS THE HOLOCAUST??
Anyone born in the modern world will have some or the other idea about the holocaust. The main driving force behind this was Anti-Semitism i.e hatred for Jews. It should be noted that Hitler did not invent this phenomena. This idea existed since the Middle Ages.
Hitler could have picked up this sentiment since his childhood, the Christian society believed Jewish faith to be an aberration. There was a sentiment that these people did not belong here. Thus, Hitler could have picked up such a mindset from a very young age. Many attribute his Jewish hatred to the Jews dismissing his artistic talents, however, there’s no strong source to support this.
Unable to accept defeat in World War I, the Germans propagated a ‘stab-in-the-back legend’. It labelled the Jews, Social Democrats and Communists as ones responsible for Germany’s loss. Additionally, Hitler seeked influence from the ideas of German nationalist Georg Ritter von Schönerer. He staunchly believed Jews could never be fully-fledged citizens. Hitler felt the Jews will not stop till they get world domination. He thus, linked this to the Jews’ monetary power and financial gain. This was be the beginning of the hell he would unleash later.
Thus, when he came into power, Jews were his primary targets. His marriage laws de-barred any Jewish male from marrying a German girl. But his worst came in the form of concentration camps. Constructed in Auschwitz-Birkenau, Jews arrived in trains to these camps. Men and women stayed in separate camps. Additionally, conditions were as bad as animals, with cramped spaces and lack of amenities.
In batches, a group of Jews marched on gunpoint to a sealed chamber, where a gas called ZYKLON B was pumped in to kill them. This hydrogen cyanide gas claimed the lives of approximately 1.1 million Jews.
HOW THE PEOPLE CELEBRATED “HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY”?
Visiting the site was not possible due to these circumstances. Thus, a number of online events were planned by: –
- Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Museum (Poland)
- Yad Vashem (Israel)
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
This gave an opportunity for victims to retrospect what once was.
Wednesday’s ceremony took place virtually starting at 1500 GMT, with speeches by survivors. Poland’s President Andrzej Duda and Israeli and Russian diplomats also shared their 2 cents on this.
There was also a debate on the Holocaust’s influence on children. Other virtual ceremonies also took place to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day
Today we see a number of such accounts.
- Rose Schindler, a 91-year-old survivor of Auschwitz originally from Czechoslovakia lives in San Diego, California, regularly speaks to school groups about her experience for 50 years. She arrived at Auschwitz in 1944. Nazis selected her more than once, for immediate death in the gas chambers. She survived by escaping each time and joining work details. Schindler experienced great horrors like the mass murder of her parents and siblings, hunger and lice infestations. Schindler claims she wants to tell her stories so that this doesn’t happen with the future generations.
- Friedman attended the event from her home in Highland Park, New Jersey. Her message of warning was on the rise of hatred in the World Jewish Congress. She hid under corpses in the camp to go unnoticed by Nazi guards who were looking for potential survivors.She was just 6 years old then.
- Bat-Sheva Dagan, 94, described that her head was shaved and arm tattooed upon her arrival. She even remembers sorting the belongings of those sent to their deaths.
Holocaust Remembrance Day is a great way to ensure people don’t forget what was. In today’s world of divisive politics and hostilities, such a step is important to make people realize such politics only leads to doom. The Holocaust was a reflection of xenophobia, racism and misinformation. Rather, it showed how all this destroyed the lives of millions of families. The testimonies of survivors are proof enough for that.
The Holocaust survivors are a living example of how we can still introspect and improve our ideas and beliefs. Their stories need to be recorded in public memory for the generations to come. This way, the mistakes our forefathers made, we won’t make. History teaches us lessons and this is one of them. Thus, on this day, we shall introspect and work on major and minor flaws.
The Holocaust Remembrance Day is thus, a good and symbolic way, to retrospect on the horrors of the past. The survivor victims get a chance to tell their stories while others, get a learning experience on what not to think and feel. Survivors’ narrations lend a feel of authenticity to the experience. This is a great step towards a time where hatred, xenophobia and division will no more create havoc in people’s lives. This will be step to ensure that a human’s life will be the most important!!!!