Since 2005 the members of the UN have commemorated the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenan and honored the 6 million Jewish and millions of other victims of the Holocaust. 2023 marks 78 years since the liberation of Auschwitz which occurred on January 27th, 1945. 1.3 million people were taken to Auschwitz of which 1.1 million were murdered. While these numbers and events can feel removed from our perceptions today, it’s important to remember in our current time of turmoil that these events happened less than 100 years ago.
We remember the past to commemorate the victims and give thanks that ultimately there was an end to the events, but we also remember history to prevent the same atrocities from being repeated. In his Remembrance Day speech, Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană of Nato drew a comparison between the danger the world faced during World War 2 with the threat Europe now faces due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Mr. Geoană claimed, “We are seeing horrific scenes that we thought we had banished to the history books… They are a chilling reminder of how fragile freedom is and how we can never take peace and security for granted. By standing up for our values today, we honor all those who struggle for freedom and democracy every day.”
There is an endless and overused list of turmoil and tension in our world today. Conversations about these situations can cause arguments and distress even when an individual is personally removed from them. It can be scary, but standing up for what is right is imperative. What is right for everyone, including people unlike you. German playwright Bertold Brecht who fled to the United States during World War 2 said,
“They came to take the Jews and I said nothing,
because they were unpleasant to me.
Then they came to take homosexuals,
and I was relieved, because they were annoying me.
Then they came to take the Communists,
and I said nothing because I was not a Communist.
One day they came to take me,
and there was nobody left to protest.
inspired by Emil Gustav Friedrich Martin Niemöller”
We have to protect and stand up for each other. And give a voice to the smallest and quietest in the room. The more open discussions we have the better for everyone.
We must always remember and do better.
“SS guards walk along the arrival ramp at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Poland, May 1944. —US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Yad Vashem”
“Visitors walks in front of a train car, at the “Track 21” memorial, the site where most of the deportation trains from Italy were boarded during the Holocaust, at the train station in Milan, Italy, Friday, Jan. 27, 2023.. Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni called the Shoah “the abyss of humanity. An evil that touched also our country with the infamy of the racial laws of 1938.” (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) ORG XMIT: XLB103
LUCA BRUNO, AP”
“Boxed files in the International Tracing Service’s Incarceration Camp Documents Unit containing 11 binders of the files of Roma (Gypsies) at Auschwitz. —US Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Richard Ehrlich.”