Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Holocaust Memorial Day: 70 Years Later


Auschwitz Death Camp with the cruel slogan, in German, at its entrance of Arbeit Macht Frei (“Work will make you free”).  As for the sign’s history, The Telegraph writes: “The infamous sign, made by a prisoner, was erected by the Nazis after the Auschwitz barracks were converted into a labour camp to house Polish resistance fighters in 1940. Auschwitz was later expanded into a vast death camp
: The Telegraph

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day, celebrating the liberation of Auschwitz, one of the most notorious Nazi death camps located in Poland. There are deniers of the Holocaust, and as the event recedes from public memory, these deniers of truth and facts, scream loudest their delusions of hatred.

An article in The Telegraph says:
More than one million people were killed at Auschwitz in Poland during World War Two. The majority were Jews and the former extermination camp is the world's biggest Jewish cemetery.
The site was also the death place for many people who did not fit into the Nazis' view of their world. Poles, lesbians, homosexuals and the disabled were amongst those also killed here.

Many of the concentration camps set up by the Nazis in World War Two were razed to the ground, but Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated before it was completely destroyed. Now it’s a museum.

Survivors will lay wreaths and light candles at the so-called Death Wall at Block 11 on January 27th to mark 70 years since the camp’s liberation, and remember those who never left.
Auschwitz was liberated by the Soviets, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) says on its site.
The Soviets liberated Auschwitz, the largest killing center and concentration camp, in January [27], 1945. The Nazis had forced the majority of Auschwitz prisoners to march westward (in what would become known as "death marches"), and Soviet soldiers found only several thousand emaciated prisoners alive when they entered the camp. There was abundant evidence of mass murder in Auschwitz. The retreating Germans had destroyed most of the warehouses in the camp, but in the remaining ones the Soviets found personal belongings of the victims. They discovered, for example, hundreds of thousands of men's suits, more than 800,000 women's outfits, and more than 14,000 pounds of human hair.
The Liberation of Auschwitz: January 27, 1945

On January 27, 1945, 2,819 Auschwitz inmates were liberated, 180 children, with 52 of them under eight years of age. These children survived, because they were twins, the USHMM site points out:
They managed to survive because they were wanted for medical research instead of mice and rabbits. But the German murderers with medical degrees were only keen on a particular kind of children: they wanted to experiment on twins. Twins were a special research material of Doctor Mengele and Doctor Schmidt's. Children who did not belong to that category were simply murdered. The infants were known by the numbers on their little hands.
This is cruelty beyond human comprehension. Today, as we remember this day, and what lead to it, we are confronted with the reality that anti-Semitism has never really gone away. It lay dormant for a while, and has returned as hatred against Israel. Do not mistake legitimate criticism of a nation and its policies for what this truly is: a vile and gross attempt to delegitimize a nation that has as the majority of its citizens people who self-identify as Jews. Now is time for all the free nations of the world to confront and defeat—once and for all—this enemy of humanity.

I end with this quote from Primo Levi (Interview with Daniel Toaff, Sorgenti di Vita; 25 March 1983; Trans. Mirto Stone): “Those who deny Auschwitz would be ready to remake it.”

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