January 27: International Holocaust Remembrance Day

On January 27, 1945, the Soviet army liberated the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Poland. The troops witnessed firsthand the brutality of the Third Reich. The ‘Final Solution, as the Nazis coined it, was their determination to exterminate the Jewish people because they were ‘not pure enough for their fictitious Aryan ‘master race.

Of course, the Nazis failed in their endeavors, but not before over 6,000,000 Jewish people and another 1,500,000 non-Jews were murdered either in one of the many concentration camps scattered across Europe, as well as outside of the camps by soldiers and roaming gangs in the European cities and towns. Indeed, it was in the earlier years of Nazism that thousands and later, millions were slaughtered in these towns before the concentration camps were fully operational.

One catalyst towards the state-sponsored onslaught of Jews was Kristallnacht (Crystal Night), a name given to reflect the shards of glass that had fallen from the mass destruction of Jewish-owned stores and synagogues in Germany. The pretext to commit these callous attacks was based on the assassination (November 9, 1938) of a Nazi diplomat by Herschel Grynszpan, a German-born Polish Jewish teenager. German police and soldiers stood aside while mobs of Germans, incited by Hitler’s state-sponsored propaganda machine, began their rampage throughout Germany.

Survivors and witnesses have accounted for the mass murder of Jews by German soldiers or groups loyal to the Nazis, who would take people from their homes and kill them without mercy. Women and children included. This slaughter is well documented in the areas of western Russia, where Jews were coldly shot in the fields that surrounded the small Russian towns.

One survivor of Auschwitz-Birkenau was Miriam Blumenthal, an author and honoree from many distinguished U.S. and European organizations. She currently spends much of her time educating the world about tolerance and the lessons of the Holocaust. 

Additional information can be found at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which provides a large variety of information on the Holocaust and welcomes people to join in their membership for the continued fight against antisemitism.

January 27th is the date marked by the United Nations to commemorate victims of the Holocaust and we should all pause for a moment of silence to reflect on the millions of innocent lives lost during this dark period in history.