Today is January 27, 2020, International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The International Holocaust Rememberance Day, known colloquially in Israel and abroad as Yom HaShoah and in English as Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Holocaust Day, is observed as Israel’s day of commemoration for the approximately six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust as a result of the actions carried out by Nazi Germany and its collaborators during World War II, and for the Jewish resistance in that period. It commemorates the genocide that resulted in the deaths of 6 million Jews and 11 million others, by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. During World War II, the Nazis considered Jews to be the inferior race that posed the deadliest menace to the German Volk. Soon after they came to power, the Nazis adopted measures to exclude Jews from German economic, social and cultural life and to pressure them to emigrate. World War II provided Nazi officials with the opportunity to pursue a comprehensive, “final solution to the Jewish question”: the murder of all the Jews in Europe.
In late 1941, Nazi officials opted to employ an additional method to kill Jews, one originally developed for the “Euthanasia” Program: stationary gas chambers. Between 1941 and 1944, Nazi Germany and its Allies deported nearly three million Jews from areas under their control to Nazi-occupied Poland. The vast majority were sent to killing centers, often called extermination camps, at Belzec, Chelmno, Sobibor, Treblinka, and Auschwitz-Birkenau, where they were murdered primarily by means of poison gas. Some able-bodied Jewish deportees were temporarily spared to perform forced labor in ghettos, forced labor camps for Jews, or concentration camps in Nazi-occupied Poland and the Soviet Union. Most of these workers died from starvation and disease or were killed when they became too weak to work.
Today marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, which represents one of myriad efforts to keep the lessons of the Holocaust alive against increasing resistance and acts of hate. The US Holocaust Memorial Museum teaches millions of people each year about the dangers of unchecked hatred and the need to prevent genocide.