Today marks the 76th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.
January 27 marks the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. The day was designed by way of a UN General Assembly resolution adopted on November 1, 2005. The date designated for this Holocaust Remembrance Day is no coincidence. On January 27, 1945, Soviet troops liberated the biggest Nazi concentration camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau in the then occupied Poland. At that concentration camp, over a million men, women and children were killed in the most heinous of ways.
The official theme for 2021 is “Facing the Aftermath: Recovery and Reconstitution after the Holocaust.” As the UN notes, this year’s commemoration “focuses on the measures taken in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust to begin the process of recovery and reconstitution of individuals, community, and systems of justice. Integral to the process of reconstitution was the accurate recording of the historical account of what happened before and during the Holocaust. Challenging the denial and distortion of the historical events was interwoven in the processes of recovery and reconstitution. The theme examines the contribution of the responses to the victims of the Holocaust, and of the survivors, to addressing the needs of the contemporary world, and to the historical record of the Holocaust.”
It is especially important to remember the Holocaust now because the seeds of what led to the camps are still being planted and nourished. White supremacy, systemic racism, and supporters of those policies are still a part of our lives all over the world. It’s not stretching things too far to say that a good deal of the number of those who attacked the Capitol on January 6 harbor at least some tendencies towards Fascism, as did the man who they say inspired them: the guy who wore the “Camp Auschwitz” t-shirt did it on purpose, and the Proud Boys, today’s version of Hitler’s brownshirts, march under the banner of “Six Million Was Not Enough.” And yet it is problematic whether or not their Dear Leader will be held accountable, much less barred from trying to run again.
We shouldn’t just remember the Holocaust. We need to make sure that “Never Again” is not just a reminder, but a reality.