International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Saturday, 27 January 2018 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General

Map of the Holocaust in Europe © Dennis Nilsson/cc-by-3.0

Map of the Holocaust in Europe © Dennis Nilsson/cc-by-3.0

International Holocaust Remembrance Day, is an international memorial day on 27 January commemorating the victims of the Holocaust. It commemorates the genocide that resulted in the death of an estimated 6 million Jewish people, 200,000 Romani people, 250,000 mentally and physically disabled people, and 9,000 homosexual men by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. It was designated by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 60/7 on 1 November 2005 during the 42nd plenary session. The resolution came after a special session was held earlier that year on 24 January 2005 during which the United Nations General Assembly marked the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps and the end of the Holocaust. On 27 January 1945, Auschwitz-Birkenau (today Oświęcim in Poland), the largest Nazi concentration and death camp, was liberated by the Red Army.

Prior to the 60/7 resolution, there had been national days of commemoration, such as Germany’s Tag des Gedenkens an die Opfer des Nationalsozialismus (The Day of remembrance for the victims of National Socialism), established in a proclamation issued by Federal President Roman Herzog on 3 January 1996; and the Holocaust memorial day observed every 27 January since 2001 in the UK. The Holocaust Remembrance Day is also a national event in Italy. Commemorations are held at the USHMM (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum) in Washington, DC and at Yad Vashem, in Jerusalem. In Austria, commemorations of the Remembrance Day are held at the Heldenplatz in Vienna since 2012. In Israel, there is a national memorial day in remembrance of the Holocaust, also known as Yom HaShoah, which is held on the 27th of Nisan. However, the International Holocaust Remembrance Day is also held in Israel. Government officials, diplomats and ambassadors visit Yad Vashem and there are ceremonies held throughout the country.

Resolution 60/7 establishing 27 January as International Holocaust Remembrance Day urges every member nation of the U.N. (The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme) to honor the memory of Holocaust victims, and encourages the development of educational programs about Holocaust history to help prevent future acts of genocide. It rejects any denial of the Holocaust as an event and condemns all manifestations of religious intolerance, incitement, harassment or violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin or religious belief. It also calls for actively preserving the Holocaust sites that served as Nazi death camps, concentration camps, forced labor camps and prisons, as well as for establishing a U.N. programme of outreach and mobilization of society for Holocaust remembrance and education. The essence of the text lies in its twofold approach: one that deals with the memory and remembrance of those who were massacred during the Holocaust, and the other with educating future generations of its horrors.

The International Day in memory of the victims of the Holocaust is thus a day on which we must reassert our commitment to human rights. […]

We must also go beyond remembrance, and make sure that new generations know this history. We must apply the lessons of the Holocaust to today’s world. And we must do our utmost so that all peoples may enjoy the protection and rights for which the United Nations stands.

— Message by Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon for the second observance of the Holocaust Victims Memorial Day on 19 January 2008.

While a day of mourning is set up in much of the world, the right-wing Polish government has decided to ban and denounce the mention of the involvement of parts of the Polish population in the Holocaust (e.g., the Jedwabne pogrom, Haaretz, 28 January 2018: Death Camps Weren’t ‘Polish’ – but Poles Were Bad Enough to Jews Without Them, Holocaust Historian Says, BBC, 18 February 2018: Israel rebukes Poland PM for ‘Jewish perpetrators’ remark and Haaretz, 5 July 2018: Yad Vashem Historians Against Israeli-Polish Statement on ‘Holocaust Law’) by law. The attempt of the so falsified history (Holocaust denial, Laws against Holocaust denial, The Guardian, 17 September 2019: The populist rewriting of Polish history is a warning to us all) is sharply criticized in particular in Israel (The New York Times, 27 January 2018) and the United States (Washington Post, 01 Februray 2018). The official stance on the topic from Berlin is: Merkel reiterates German guilt as Polish Holocaust bill spat rages (Deutsche Welle, 10 February 2018). The last known pogrom against Jews on Polish soil took place on July 4, 1946 in Kielce, more than a year after the end of WWII (History of the Jews in Poland). However, the approach is not surprising, especially since the current Polish government has abolished the independence of judges in favor of legal uncertainty, court rulings are only given in favor of the opinion of the government and independent judges have been replaced by government puppets. Todays Polish legal system again corresponds to that at the time of the Soviet Union. That is why the EU has launched a legal case against Poland. During the upcoming negotiations on the future EU budget, the misconduct of the rule of law by Poland and Hungary will be a topic. Poland is the largest recipient of donations from Brussels. The major donor countries are broadly in agreement that the awarding of subsidies shall be linked to common values, the rule of law and solidarity in the future.

The aim of the Kaczyński government, as with all nationalist regimes, is to wash Polish history clean of all sins. In this case, it is also driven by the attempt to make imaginary claims for reparations to Germany, although these have long been compensated and this has been regulated in the context of several bilateral treaties. The Kaczyński government would have to renounce all these treaties and thus in effect decide the self-dissolution of Poland in order to renegotiate. In European history, it would be the first case that a right-wing national regime would dissolve itself and and the country, while ensuring that Russia and Germany would grow their country sizes without doing anything. Maybe that is precisely the goal of the Kaczyński regime.

On the Israeli Holocaust Remembrance Day Yom Hashoa (end of April/beginning of May – in Hebrew, the Holocaust is referred to as “Shoah” = “catastrophe”), the March of the Living takes place from the Auschwitz concentration camp to the Birkenau extermination camp. The “March of the Living” is led by Holocaust survivors (Haaretz, 17 April 2018: Polish Nationalists Call to Investigate Israeli President Rivlin Over Holocaust Remarks).

Read more on International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, Yad Vashem, Jewish Museum Berlin, Museum of the History of Polish Jews, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Wikipedia History of the Jews in Germany, Wikipedia Jewish history, Wikipedia Jewish culture, Wikipedia Jewish question, Wikipedia Concentration camps, Wikipedia List of concentration camps, Wikipedia Extermination camps, Wikipedia Ghettos, Wikipedia International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, auswaertiges-amt.de – International working definition of anti‑Semitism supported by the Federal Government, HolocaustRemembrance.com – Working Definition of Antisemitism and Wikipedia International Holocaust Remembrance Day.  (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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