International Holocaust Remembrance Day
International Holocaust Remembrance Day is Memorial Day that takes place to remember the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust. The chosen date was January 27, the day the Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz was liberated by Soviet soldiers in 1945.
On this day the world reaffirms the unwavering commitment to counter antisemitism, antigypsyism, racism, and other forms of intolerance that may lead to group-targeted violence.
United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 60/7 on 1 November 2005 to designate January 27 — the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau — as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On this day, the UN urges member states to honor the memories of the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and millions of other victims of Nazism, and to work toward educational programming to help prevent future genocide.
In Israel, “Shoah,” meaning “catastrophe” or “great misfortune,” is used to describe the event. And outside the Jewish state, this crime against humanity is called the Holocaust, derived from the Greek for “sacrificially burned.”
While Israel commemorates the Holocaust on the 27th of Nisan (a few days after Passover ends), the international community commemorates the victims of the horrific events of WWII in January.
The Jewish people had done nothing wrong and were targeted simply because they were Jewish. The Nazis rounded these people up and put them in prisons called concentration camps and killed them, because they believed they were inferior human beings and wanted to get rid of them. Nearly seven out of every 10 Jews living in Europe at the time were killed. The Nazis also killed millions of other people just because of who they were. For example, Roma gypsies, disabled people and gay people were also targeted.
The purpose of setting this date is to ensure that Member States develop educational programmes to show future generations the historical reality of the deplorable and repudiatory events of the Holocaust, in order to prevent future acts of genocide. The history of the Holocaust must be taught, and Holocaust memory must be secured. The world must always remember what happens when any society is driven by hate and anti-Semitism.
Why to observe the day?
The Holocaust was one of the most sobering tragedies in the history of the world. The Holocaust represents destruction or mass slaughter, and people need to know why this happened. They need to know that no one can be complacent, and prejudice is not acceptable.
We need to remember this day to bring awareness to the heinous crimes that took place, and the millions of innocent lives that were taken due to prejudice. Teachers can create opportunities within the classroom for students to explore their thoughts and feelings regarding this tragedy, and how they can create a better future. It is vital to educate students on the Holocaust and learn about the evil mission behind all of it by Adolf Hitler.
“History shows that the only way to stop genocide is to sound the alarm before it is too late.”
—Stephen D. Smith, FINCI-VITERBI Executive Director, USC SHOAH Foundation
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