Each year on the 27th January ‘Holocaust Memorial Day takes place’. It’s a time to pause to remember the millions of people who have been murdered in the Holocaust of World War II and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.
On 27th January, 1945, soldiers of the Soviet 322nd Rifle Division entered the grounds of Auschwitz-Birkenau. There, they found 7,500 sick and weak prisoners and 600 corpses, left behind by the Germans who had earlier evacuated the stronger, fitter prisoners and force-marched them towards Wodzislaw Slaski.
It was not the first camp to be discovered by the advancing Soviet Army and it would not be the last, with similar discoveries also being made by the British and American armies advancing from the west. The camps marked the discovery of a horrible secret the Germans had been keeping, the mass extermination of Jews, Soviet prisoners, Jehovah’s Witnesses and homosexuals. It was the largest genocide ever embarked upon, state sponsored and industrial in its efficiency. Eleven million men, women and children were ultimately killed.
Seventy two years on, we have not forgotten the impact that the Holocaust had on the world. Denial of it is punishable with prison time, but we also celebrate the victories won in its shadow, like Sir Nicholas Winton’s operation to rescue Czechoslovakian children or Frank Foley’s provision of passports and visas to Jews fleeing the Nazis.
The ‘Holocaust Memorial Day Trust’ website states: “This year’s theme asks audiences to think about what happens after genocide and of our own responsibilities in the wake of such crime.”
Groups can hold discussions, presentations, plays, watch films or run services.
Also please check your local area for events that will commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day.