The International Holocaust Remembrance Day is a memorial day, set at 27th January, for the whole world to stop and reflect. Reflect on the genocide of over 6 million Jews, 2 million Gypsies, 15,000 homosexual people, and millions of others.
The specific date was chosen because Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration camp, has been liberated exactly that day in 1945. The international memorial day was set as late as 2005 by the United Nations General Assembly, but prior to that, many national and local commemoration ceremonies were held annually to honor those who lost their lives in the camps.
Today, the remembrance takes many forms throughout the world. In some places, civil ceremonies take place, with leaders and officials present. Sometimes a Names Reading Ceremony is held, or a survivor invited to tell their story. Universities and colleges usually organize special lectures and students get assigned reading material or essays on the topic. Theaters and other culture centers play special movies, like documentaries or archive footage, display related art or hold Holocaust-themed poetry readings. There are special museum exhibitions, unique events at Holocaust-oriented museums, like the one organised in the Auschwitz camp. Prayers, sermons, meetings, discussions…
But the essence of them is always the same – remembering. Reminding each other. Grieving for the lost. Making sure people remember, and that their children shall remember as well. And that the horror of it… shall never repeat.
That’s why we should give a moment – at least a moment – to that thought. Maybe it’s time to pay the Auschwitz camp a visit.