International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. From the Yad Vashem website:

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:

January 27, 2013 – International Holocaust Remembrance Day

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.

13 comments:

allie said...

Thanks for posting this up! This brings back memories of middle school when I first read 'Maus'. It was such a memorable book and the message will never be forgotten.

Katya said...

Completely agree (sadly) about the state of ignorant bliss in Australia. Only yesterday people were guzzling beer and carrying on in order to 'celebrate' the violent invasion of this land. Yet, a day like today goes by without a mention.

I recently found myself educating my sixteen year old sister about the Holocaust, and it was as though she could only imagine it as fiction. In many ways I can appreciate how far removed the Holocaust is from an Australian teenager's experience, but to my mind that's exactly why they need to know about it.

Thanks for this post.

hungryandfrozen said...

How astounding that people don't know about the Holocaust - that is scary. And sad. Thanks for posting this, Hila. That quote is very powerful.

Rambling Tart said...

This is so important, Hila, and I'm so glad you are making people aware. xo I too have met so many who know so little about this horrific time in history. I do my best to share stories, read stories, and remember. Thank you for reminding us again.

Amelia said...

I thought I knew about the Holocaust, but after visiting a memorial about it in Berlin, I realized I didn't fully know. I mean, I knew about it, I knew the impact but I didn't get it. It's very hard to explain, the Holocaust where I come from is something you read in history books and that's it. People don't talk about it. But after I came back from Germany boy did I talk about it - I reached out to every person willing to listen to tell them how the history books should include more information. Ignorance/the culture of anti-intellectualism is unfortunately everywhere, not just Australia.

I'm sorry that the first comment was that nasty.

Carly said...

We learnt about the Holocaust in both primary and high school, which included using Schindler's List as our media text for year 12 English. But to be honest, I always struggled to relate to something that happened so far away and long ago. My great-grandad (who passed away before I was born) was conscripted into the German army during the first world war but thankfully was in Australia by the second world war. As a German-born citizen, he narrowly avoided being sent to the interment camps in Western Australia, which I find to be almost as much a travesty as the events in Europe at the time.
No-one can argue that the Nazi party, their sympathizers and anyone who failed to disrupt their activities committed a series of horrific atrocities, but sadly, it was not only them, and it was not only the Jewish populations in Europe who suffered.
War is horrific, for all involved. It turns men, women and children into pawns in the power games of others, and destroys families, communities and cultures.
I mentioned that I didn't feel connected to the events that happened during the Second World War when I first studied them in school. But over the years since them, I've read of the abandonment of German, Italian and Japanese citizens in squalid, wretched interment camps in Allied countries. I've read novels and histories of Greece, France and Italy during the war, and seen how their citizens were exploited by their own corrupt, misled and power-hungry governments.
Yes, the Holocaust should stand as a reminder to future generations that we cannot allow these atrocities to be repeated, but perhaps the way in which it is being taught to subsequent generations is not sufficient. Perhaps we need to remind young people that this didn't happen a long time ago and a long way away to a single, specific group of people. It happened in our own backyards, to people who shared only a birthplace with those committing the crimes of which they were all accused as well as those who were persecuted for their cultural identity. And perhaps it should serve as a reminder that these things happen when good people, who know that what is happening around them is wrong, are too scared to confront and are unable to stand up for their beliefs.

Michal said...

Thank you for posting this. Holocaust eduction is very important to me and I am always incredulous at finding people who know so little about it or are ignorant to the need to remember.

Sarah Allegra said...

Oh my goodness... perhaps this is ignorance on my part, but I had no idea so many people didn't know about the Holocaust! I could understand very young children not knowing perhaps, just having had less time on earth to learn about the world, but grown people in developed countries? That is just shameful. Thank you for bringing attention to this!

Hila said...

Thank you everyone.

Sally said...

I agree with Sarah, it's hard to fathom people not knowing - I guess because it's been so ingrained in my schooling from a young age. Hard to imagine education neglecting such an important part of history, but I guess the education system has a lot to answer for these days anyway, the world over. Thanks for this post.

Hila said...

Sally: I find it hard to understand too. I learnt about it in primary and high school, and then university. Doesn't it get taught anymore - is our historical memory really that short? It's so disheartening.

Philip Kushmaro said...

Hello everyone I would like to suggest a movie about the Holocaust, Hitler's Children Documentary

Hila said...

Thank you Philip.