International Holocaust Remembrance Day
The United Nations set aside January 27th in 2005 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. We spend this day of remembrance considering of the horrors of the Holocaust, the millions of lives lost, and the trauma that continues to affect modern generations. We also reflect on the hatred and fear that fueled the Holocaust and make plans to ensure this never happens again.
Unfortunately, it has happened again. Genocides have been perpetrated against the peoples of Bosnia, Cambodia, Rwanda, and Darfur. Hate, vitriol, and violence abound in today’s world.
So, where does that leave us?
In 2008, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon had this to say:
“The International Day in memory of the victims of the Holocaust is thus a day on which we must reassert our commitment to human rights… We must also go beyond remembrance, and make sure that new generations know this history. We must apply the lessons of the Holocaust to today’s world.”
This message drives our work at the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission. We recognize that remembrance is only a beginning. Any educational work about genocide must include an element of application, of action.
We can learn from the actions taken by those who have come before us. Today, let us remember the villagers of Le Chambon, France, who provided refuge for 5,000 people from 1940-1944, and the brave students of the White Rose Society, who agitated in Germany against the Nazi regime. Let us also remember the men and women that led the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the largest single revolt by Jews during Nazi rule. All of these people stood up for what was right despite great personal risk, and almost certain death. If people can resist in these darkest moments, if they can be brave enough to step off of the sidelines, to refuse to be bystanders, then we certainly can – and must – stand up against prejudice and discrimination we see in our daily lives.
We encourage you on this day to continue educating yourselves and others. Educators can take our free workshop on Project Share, and young people can enter our Student Video Contest. We hope you will join us today in recommitting to this important work. We need your voices to uplift the memories of those whose lives were taken by hate; we need your passionate ideas to help solve the problems our world faces today.
Further Resources for International Holocaust Remembrance Day