Remembering The Holocaust & Honoring Its Survivors on International Holocaust Remembrance Day

January 27th, 2017
International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Yam Hashoah

Today is Yam Hashoah or International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is in memory of the victims of The Holocaust. The UN General Assembly Resolution 60/7 designated this date on Nov 1, 2005. On January 27th in 1945, is when the largest Nazi death camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau (Poland) was liberated by Soviet troops.

1945: The Soviet army entered Auschwitz & liberated more than 7,000 remaining prisoners, who were mostly ill & dying. It is estimated that over 1.3 million people were deported to Auschwitz between 1940 and 1945. Of these, at least 1.1 million were murdered. When the Red Army entered Birkenau, they found it almost entirely empty of human inhabitants.

One survivor found in a hospital was Anne Frank’s father, Otto. Anne had died there months earlier from disease. Though most of the storage facilities were already destroyed, the Russians discovered 836,255 women’s dresses, 348,000 sets of men’s suits and 38,000 pairs of men’s shoes.

2001: Survivors of Auschwitz went on a poignant march past the gas chambers which claimed the lives of their fellow prisoners as Europe marked Holocaust Memorial Day;

  • 700 people, including camp survivors & local Jewish leaders, walked from the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp’s Gate of Death to its giant memorial wall, past the remains of the gas chambers and crematoria.
  • The Nazis killed 1.5 million people in Auschwitz, the highest number at any death camp, before hastily retreating from an advancing Soviet army.
  • The Auschwitz-Birkenau camp is regarded as the world’s largest Jewish burial ground
  • It now houses a museum and is little changed from the day the Red Army troops freed its last inmates.
  • Polish PM Jerzy Buzek told the participants they were the “guardians of this tragic heritage of mankind.”

“Not everyone who survived has the strength to share” Auschwitz survivor Hedi Fried said. “We have an extra obligation. We owe it to our murdered parents, the 6 million Jews, 500,000 Gypsies & countless homosexuals, Russians and Poles who died.”

In Germany, there has been a sharp rise this year in violent attacks on minorities. The annual “Day of Remembrance for Victims of Nazism” gives this added resonance. Parliament president Wolfgang Thierse issued a warning about the dangers of neo-Nazism. Germans must show “commitment to democracy and against raging right-wing extremism,” he told Deutschland Radio. “This isn’t about remembrance without consequences.”

Holocaust Remembrance Day – Poems, Quotes & Prayers

Yom HaShoah is the Jewish holiday dedicated to memorializing the Holocaust. Find words of inspiration and reflection in this day for the victims of Nazism, which included Jews, but Russians, homosexuals, and the physically and mentally handicapped.

  1. “That I survived the Holocaust and went on to love beautiful girls, to talk, to write, to have toast and tea and live my life – that is what is abnormal.” – Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and author of Night
  1. “Jews survived all the defeats, expulsions, persecutions and pogroms, the centuries in which they were regarded as a pariah people, even the Holocaust itself, because they never gave up the faith that one day they would be free to live as Jews without fear.” – Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth
  1. “Lord, remember not only the men of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not remember all the suffering they have inflicted upon us. Remember rather the fruits we have brought, thanks to this suffering: our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, the courage, the generosity, and the greatness of heart that has grown out of this. And when they come to judgment, let all the fruits we have bourne be their forgiveness.” – Anonymous, “Prayer for Yom HaShoah”
  1. “We played, we laughed, we were loved. We were ripped from the arms of our parents and thrown into the fire. We were nothing more than children. We had a future. We were going to be lawyers, rabbis, wives, teachers, and mothers. We had dreams, and then we had no hope. We were taken away in the dead of night like cattle in cars, no air to breath smothering, crying, starving, and dying. Separated from the world to be no more. From the ashes, hear our plea. This atrocity to mankind cannot happen again. Remember us, for we were the children whose dreams and lives were stolen away.” – Barbara Sonek, “Holocaust”
  1. “Here in this carload. I am Eve. With my son Abel. If you see my older boy. Cain son of Adam, Tell him that I…”– Dan Pagis, “Written in Pencil in the Sealed Freightcar”
  1. “Yet, nearly 6 decades after the Holocaust concluded, Anti-Semitism still exists as the scourge of the world.” – Eliot Engel, U.S. Representative for New York’s 16th Congressional District
  1. “We come out of Jewish-refugee, Holocaust stock, which means that our predecessors fled and we learned that systems of power are vulnerable to corruption and can treat the defenseless in a destructive fashion.” – Eugene Jarecki, American author
  2. “From the crematory flue. A Jew aspires to the Holy One. And when the smoke of him is gone, His wife and children filter through. Above us, in the height of sky, Saintly billows weep and wait. God, wherever you may be, There all of us are also not.”— Jacob Glatstein, trans. from Yiddish by Chana Faerstein
  1. “And call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” – Psalm 50:15
  1. “The search for a Jewish national home came about due to centuries of anti-Semitic pogroms, expulsions, discrimination and hate. The Holocaust was simply the evil culmination of all that came before It.” – Edgar Bronfman, Sr., Canadian-American Businessman and Philanthropist

Remember our fallen heroes. They are the reason that we are free.