International-Holocaust-Remembrance-day

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Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

January 27 marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp. 

In 2005, the United Nations General Assembly designated this day as International Holocaust Remembrance Day (IHRD), an annual day of commemoration to honor the victims of the Nazi era.

From 1940 to 1945, more than 1.1 million men, women and children were killed in the Auschwitz concentration camp. 90% of them were Jews. All were innocent. Today, we remember

Never Again.

If I had the power, I would add an 11th commandment to the already existing 10: “You should never be a bystander”.
—  Roman Kent, Holocaust survivor, in his speech on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. January 27, 2015.
Today is important

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

   January 27 marks the 71st anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp.

    In 2005, the United Nations General Assembly designated this day as International Holocaust Remembrance Day (IHRD), an annual day of commemoration to honor the victims of the Nazi era.

    From 1940 to 1945, more than 1.1 million men, women and children were killed in the Auschwitz concentration camp. 90% of them were Jews. All were innocent. Today, we remember

    Never Again.

Today is the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On January 27 1945, the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp was liberated by Soviet troops.

The above image shows just some of the thousands upon thousands of wedding rings confiscated by the Nazis from victims of the Holocaust. These rings were found by US troops after liberating Buchenwald in 1945.

(Department of Defense)

We must remember that hate is never right and love is never wrong.
—  Roman Kent, Holocaust survivor. In his speech on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. January 27, 2015.
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27 January, 1945 | The liberation of Auschwitz

Never shall I forget that smoke. … Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence that deprived me for all eternity of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes. Never shall I forget these things, even if I were condemned to live as long as God himself.

Never.

Elie Wiesel, Night

All the Dachaus must remain standing. The Dachaus, the Belsens, the Buchenwalds, the Auschwitzes—all of them.  They must remain standing because they are a monument to a moment in time when some men decided to turn the earth into a graveyard. Into it they shoveled all of their reason, their logic, their knowledge, but worst of all, their conscience, and the moment we forget this, the moment we cease to be haunted by its remembrance, then we become the gravediggers. Something to dwell on and remember…

Rod Serling, The Twilight Zone, “Deaths-Head Revisited”

When Soviet troops arrived at the Auschwitz concentration camp on the 27th of January, 1945, they found roughly 7,500 living prisoners–most of whom were weak, ill, and starving–and hundreds of corpses. Though the camp remained largely in tact, the retreating S.S. had demolished several buildings, including the gas chambers, in an attempt to hide their crimes. Overall, an estimated 1.1 million people were murdered in Auschwitz between 1940 and 1945, making it the most deadly of all the Nazi concentration and extermination camps. The majority of the victims were Jews.

Auschwitz-Birkenau became a museum in 1947, and the UN appointed January 27th as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Seventy years after its liberation, Auschwitz remains the dominant symbol of the Holocaust

On this day 70 years ago, Soviet troops discovered a darker side of war as they liberated Auschwitz concentration camp. Today in commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, we invite you to explore these stories of fear, suffering, survival, and liberation to remember the victims of the Holocaust and to prevent future genocides.

Join us this evening for a free livestream of our Holocaust Survivors Panel from 6pm-8pm/CST. Watch it here: http://bit.ly/1CuYkCl

Image: Child survivors of Auschwitz, wearing adult-size prisoner jackets, stand behind a barbed wire fence. Courtesy of USHMM/Belarusian State Archive of Documentary Film and Photography.

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International Holocaust Remembrance Day

General Dwight Eisenhower inspected the Ohrdruf Nazi labor camp, located near the German city of Gotha, on April 12, 1945, while touring forward battle areas. It was the first camp in Germany liberated by the western Allies. 

Eisenhower told General George C. Marshall he toured the camp “in order to be in a position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to ‘propaganda’…. ”

Eisenhower told General George S. Patton shortly after his visit to Ohrdruf that he wanted “every visitor” in the region to see the camps. A day later he wrote General Marshall requesting that he send “about a dozen leaders of Congress and a dozen prominent editors” to tour the camps. Ike also ordered German civilians living near the camps to see the horrors firsthand. 

“I’m not going to let anybody ever say again that all these stories are just made up,” Eisenhower told a reporter in 1965, twenty years after his order to publicize the atrocities.

Eisenhower’s decision to request inspections of the concentration camps by political representatives and members of the press resulted in a documentary record that continues to counter Holocaust deniers. 

Learn more about Eisenhower’s decision to publicize the horrors of the concentration camps on the Presidential Timeline. [WARNING: Contains graphic photo materials.]

-from the Eisenhower Library

Pages from: Investigation Report on the Life in a German Extermination Camp and the Atrocities Committed There. 1941-1944. 

On 27 January 1945, the 322nd Rifle Division of the Red Army liberated Auschwitz. Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

During World War Two, Gino Bartali hid a Jewish family in the cellar of his own home, saving their lives. He also used his fame to deliver messages for the Italian resistance. He cycled around Florence and Tuscany, and even as far as Rome and the Alps. The fascists and Nazis didn’t dare stop the great Bartali.

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Auschwitz I (Main Camp) - Oswiecim, Poland, 08/25/1944

From the series: Aerial Photography of Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Records of the Central Intelligence Agency, 1894 - 2002

The now-infamous Nazi German Concentration Camp at Auschwitz in Poland was liberated seventy years ago by advancing Soviet forces on January 27, 1945, an anniversary now commemorated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

tabletmag.com
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Omits Jews from His Holocaust Remembrance Statement
On Wednesday, recently-elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued his first official commemorative statement for International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The 111-word pronouncement is notable less for what it does mention, than for what it doesn't: Jews and anti-Semitism. Here it is in it...

Despite the fact that many feel compelled to choose between them, the universalist and particularist interpretations of the Holocaust are not actually mutually exclusive. One can recognize that the Shoah reflects a deep-rooted human tendency to demonize the Other, while also acknowledging how that Other has, for centuries, tended to be the Jews. The two-fold lesson, then, is that we must be vigilant against all forms of bigotry, while taking special care to combat anti-Semitism, in recognition of its deadliness and durability.

But Trudeau’s statement embodies more than just an illusory dilemma. It reflects a dangerous dynamic. Individuals or communities who pick only one of these takeaways from the Holocaust, rather than taking both to heart, risk misunderstanding the tragedy’s lessons. Those, including Jews, who view the Shoah as a purely particularist portrait of the perils of anti-Jewish prejudice may fail to confront such hatred when it is being faced by non-Jewish communities. At the same time, those like Trudeau who focus solely on the Holocaust’s universalist implications may come to underrate the uniquely murderous threat that anti-Semitism has and continues to pose for Jews—or even erase those Jews as inconvenient accessories in the story of their own persecution.

The challenge, in others words, is not to choose sides; it’s to internalize both sides.

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Today, January 27th, is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. There’s a wealth of information available about the horrors of the Holocaust, but this reading list of six powerful books is a good place to start.

The Exiles Return
by Elisabeth de Waal

Set in the ashes of post-second world war Vienna, The Exiles Return is a powerful, subtle novel of exiles returning home fifteen years after fleeing Hitler’s deadly reign. With immaculate precision and sensitivity, de Waal, an exile herself, captures a city rebuilding and relearning its identity, and the people who have to do the same. de Waal has written a masterpiece of European literature, an artifact revealing a moment in our history, clear as a snapshot, but timeless as well.

The Hare with Amber Eyes
by Edmund de Waal

When Edmund de Waal inherited a collection of 264 tiny Japanese wood and ivory carvings, called netsuke, he wanted to know who had touched and held them, and how the collection had managed to survive. And so begins this extraordinarily moving memoir and detective story as de Waal discovers both the story of the netsuke and of his family, the Ephrussis, over five generations. A nineteenth-century banking dynasty in Paris and Vienna, the Ephrussis were as rich and respected as the Rothchilds. Yet by the end of the World War II, when the netsuke were hidden from the Nazis in Vienna, this collection of very small carvings was all that remained of their vast empire.

The Pianist
by Wladyslaw Szpilman

On September 23, 1939, Wladyslaw Szpilman played Chopin’s Nocturne in C-sharp minor live on the radio as shells exploded outside—so loudly that he couldn’t hear his piano. It was the last live music broadcast from Warsaw: That day, a German bomb hit the station, and Polish Radio went off the air.

Though he lost his entire family, Szpilman survived in hiding. In the end, his life was saved by a German officer who heard him play the same Chopin Nocturne on a piano found among the rubble. Written immediately after the war and suppressed for decades, The Pianist is a stunning testament to human endurance and the redemptive power of fellow feeling.

Night
by Elie Wiesel

Night is Elie Wiesel’s masterpiece, a candid, horrific, and deeply poignant autobiographical account of his survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps. This new translation by Marion Wiesel, Elie’s wife and frequent translator, presents this seminal memoir in the language and spirit truest to the author’s original intent. And in a substantive new preface, Elie reflects on the enduring importance of Night and his lifelong, passionate dedication to ensuring that the world never forgets man’s capacity for inhumanity to man.

Anne Frank
by Melissa Muller

Praised as “remarkable,” “meticulous,” and “long overdue,” Anne Frank: The Biography, originally published in 1998, still stands as the definitive account of the girl who has become “the human face of the Holocaust.” For this nuanced portrait of her famous subject, biographer Melissa Müller drew on exclusive interviews with family and friends as well as on previously unavailable correspondence, even, in the process, discovering five missing diary pages. Full of revelations, Müller’s richly textured narrative returned Anne Frank to history, portraying the flesh-and-blood girl unsentimentalized and so all the more affecting.

Now, fifteen years after the book first appeared, much new information has come to light: letters sent by Otto Frank to relatives in America as he sought to emigrate with his family, the identity of other suspects involved in the betrayal of the Franks, and important details about the family’s arrest and subsequent fate. Revised and updated with more than thirty percent new material, this is an indispensable volume for all those who seek a deeper understanding of Anne Frank and the brutal times in which she lived and died.

The Emperor of Lies
by Steve Sem-Sandberg

In February 1940, the Nazis established what would become the second-largest Jewish ghetto in the Polish city of Lódz. Its chosen leader: Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski, a sixty-three-year-old Jewish businessman and orphanage director. From one of Scandinavia’s most critically acclaimed and bestselling authors, The Emperor of Lies chronicles the tale of Rumkowski’s monarchical rule over a quarter million Jews. Driven by a titanic ambition, he sought to transform the ghetto into a productive industrial complex and strove to make it —and himself — indispensable to the Nazi regime. Drawing on the chronicles of life in the Lódz Ghetto, Steve Sem-Sandberg captures the full panorama of human resilience and asks the most difficult questions: Was Rumkowski a ruthless opportunist, an accessory to the Nazi regime driven by a lust for power? Or was he a pragmatic strategist who managed to save Jewish lives through his collaboration policies?

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Actress Sandra Oh reads the speech given by Yuri Kochiyama who was held in a Japanese internment camp during WWII. Part of a reading from Voices of a People’s History of the United States given October 5, 2005 in Los Angeles California (Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove.)

ANTHONY ARNOVE: The Japanese-American civil rights activist Yuri Kochiyama, who was born in San Pedro, California, was a member of a family that was among the 120,000 Japanese Americans on the West Coast who were rounded up in a wave of anti-Japanese hysteria that followed the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Here she recalls her experiences in the detention camps.

YURI KOCHIYAMA: [read by Sandra Oh] I was red, white and blue when I was growing up. I taught Sunday school, and was very, very American. But I was also very provincial. We were just kids rooting for our high school.

I was nineteen at the time of the evacuation. I had just finished junior college. I was looking for a job, and didn’t realize how different the school world was from the work world. In the school world, I never felt racism. But when you got into the work world, it was very difficult. This was 1941, just before the war. I finally did get a job at a department store. But for us back then, it was a big thing, because I don’t think they had ever hired an Asian in a department store before. I tried, because I saw a Mexican friend who got a job there. 

Everything changed for me on the day Pearl Harbor was bombed. On that very day—December 7, the FBI came and they took my father. He had just come home from the hospital the day before. For several days we didn’t know where they had taken him. Then we found out that he was taken to the federal prison at Terminal Island. Overnight, things changed for us. 

Most Japanese Americans had to give up their jobs, whatever they did, and were told they had to leave. The edict for 9066—President Roosevelt’s edict for evacuation—was in February 1942. We were moved to a detention center that April. 

We were sent to an assembly center in Arcadia, California, in April. It was the largest assembly center on the West Coast having nearly twenty thousand people. There were some smaller centers with about six hundred people. All along the West Coast—Washington, Oregon, California—there were many, many assembly centers, but ours was the largest. Most of the assembly centers were either fairgrounds, or race tracks. So many of us lived in stables and they said you could take what you could carry. 

I was so red, white and blue, I couldn’t believe this was happening to us. America would never do a thing like this to us. This is the greatest country in the world. So I thought this is only going to be for a short while, maybe a few weeks or something, and they will let us go back. At the beginning no one realized how long this would go on. I didn’t feel the anger that much because I thought maybe this was the way we could show our love for our country, and we should not make too much fuss or noise, we should abide by what they asked of us. I’m a totally different person now than I was back then. I was naive about so many things. The more I think about, the more I realize how little you learn about American history. It’s just what they want you to know. 

We always called the camps “relocation centers” while we were there. Now we feel it is apropos to call them concentration camps. It is not the same as the concentration camps of Europe; those we feel were death camps. Concentration camps were a concentration of people placed in an area, and disempowered and disenfranchised. So it is apropos to call what I was in a concentration camp. 

Historically, Americans have always been putting people behind walls. First there were the American Indians who were put on reservations, Africans in slavery, their lives on the plantations, Chicanos doing migratory work, and the kinds of camps they lived in, and even too, the Chinese when they worked on the railroad camps where they were almost isolated, dispossessed people—disempowered. And I feel those are the things we should fight against so they won’t happen again. 

This whole period of what the Japanese went through is important. If we can see the connections of how often this happens in history, we can stem the tide of these things happening again by speaking out against them.

(Transcript from Readings from Howard Zinn’s “Voices of a People’s History of the United States”)