Tuesday January 27th marked the 70th Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by Red Army (Soviet) soldiers.
Auschwitz opened their doors in early 1940 and at its peak, the Auschwitz extermination camp could murder 3 – 4,000 people a day without ever forcing the Nazi’s to use a single bullet. In 5 years as a prison camp and then as a death camp, historians conservatively estimate that at least 1.1 MILLION human souls were lost within its gates.
While there were several such camps operated by the Nazis and similarly horrifying prison camps in Japan (and later in Russia) – the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp is the most infamous of such facilities in human memory.
Remembering the liberation of Auschwitz should also remind us that we collectively promised in the years after WW II that we would never allow such an atrocity to happen again. Sadly, we have failed that promise over the years; indeed, in several corners of the world we are failing it even now.
Some in the Jewish community worry that the world is forgetting what took place in Europe during the Nazi occupation and they worry what it could mean for our future.
“Some of the people still saying that it (the Holocaust) never happened. I’m here to tell the world it happened. And I’m strong enough, and I’m a victor. And the world has to learn from it and to live in peace,” said survivor from Canada, Mordechai Ronen.
He and almost 300 others have come to revisit the horrors of Auschwitz with one goal in mind – to keep its memory alive.
Samuel Beller from the USA kept silent about what he saw in Auschwitz for forty years, until he learned of an attempt to trivialize the Holocaust.
“For forty years I did not open my mouth about what happened there. But after something happened, somebody told a girl in high school that you don’t have to know about the Holocaust. So it got me very upset and I said ‘why a girl, a Jewish girl should (not) know about these things?’ I was very, very shook up. So, I started to go after this and ever since I don’t stop talking about it,” he said, no longer afraid to present his camp tattoo, a number given to every inmate stripped of their name and personality.
In Auschwitz and the nearby camp Auschwitz II – Birkenau, people were killed in gas chambers, their bodies later burned in crematoriums.
“The whole world, Europe is forgetting about the whole thing. They want to have proof – me, as proof, my son, as proof… they were killing people like nothing. It didn’t mean anything. The smell was so bad here from burning people,” recalls John Pekats.
Oh, that we would never forget the pain, misery and horrific degradation that took place in Europe during WW II. Specifically, the attacks on Jews, the disabled and other minority groups that suffered under Nazi oppression.
Senator Ted Cruz marked the important Anniversary on his Facebook Page.
Seventy years ago, Allied forces liberated the concentration camp in Auschwitz, Poland. 7,000 survivors were mercifully freed. Some 1.3 million souls, however, did not emerge from those cursed gates. They were victims of the systematic torture, abuse and murder that characterized the genocidal Nazi project that attempted to eradicate the Jews.
A great evil was beaten back, and the remarkable success of the Jewish people to establish their own flourishing, democratic state stands as the quintessential testimony to this victory. But as recent events so starkly remind us, the evil of anti-Semitism may have been defeated at Auschwitz but it was not eradicated. “Never again” and “never forget” must be more than catch-phrases today, they must be a call to action to continue the fight against this particularly insidious and vicious bigotry in our own time.
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