On January 27, 1945, Soviet forces liberated the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp, discovering the largest Nazi killing center in Europe. Auschwitz has become a symbol of the Holocaust, representing the depths of man’s inhumanity to man. Eighteen governments have legislated January 27 as an annual Holocaust Memorial Day. In November 2005, the United Nations passed a resolution to mark January 27 as an international day of commemoration to honor the victims of the Holocaust, and urged member states to develop educational programs to impart the memory of this tragedy to future generations. Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremonies will be organized on the international, national, regional and local levels, including in universities and schools.
I’m used to people in Australia not having a clue about this day, but what I’m not used to is encountering so many people who have no idea what the Holocaust even is. I’ve really been shocked this year; this complacent ignorance and insular lack of knowledge that is often ridiculously celebrated in Australia as pride in anti-intellectualism, here manifests itself as something inexcusable and dangerous. To speak to so many people this year who literally haven’t even heard of the Holocaust has left me feeling a combined emotion of helplessness, fear and anger.
So what on earth can this little post do to counter all that? Not much. But I will still mark the day, and hopefully remind those who do care, and who do want to find out more, of Agnes Heller’s words:
I urge everyone who reads this to write their own post and help preserve that moral task of keeping the Holocaust alive.
Please visit the Yad Vashem website to find out more. And if you’re on Facebook, join the IRemember Wall to remember a Holocaust victim – your Facebook profile will be linked with a Holocaust victim’s name. To remember is the absolute least we can do, so please, let’s keep remembering.