#Holocaust Week of Remembrance: Monday, May 2–Friday, May 6, 2016

Holocaust Day

International Holocaust Remembrance Day, is an international memorial day on 27 January commemorating the victims of the Holocaust. It commemorates the genocide that resulted in the death of an estimated 6 million Jewish people, 2 million Romani people, 250,000 mentally and physically disabled people, and 9,000 homosexual men by the Nazi regime and its collaborators.

It was designated by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 60/7 on 1 November 2005 during the 42nd plenary session.  The resolution came after a special session was held earlier that year on 24 January 2005 during which the United Nations General Assembly marked the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps and the end of the Holocaust.

On 27 January 1945, Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration and death camp, was liberated by Soviet troops.

Prior to the 60/7 resolution, there had been national days of commemoration, such as Germany’s Tag des Gedenkens an die Opfer des Nationalsozialismus (The Day of remembrance for the victims of National Socialism), established in a proclamation issued by Federal President Roman Herzog on 3 January 1996; and the Holocaust memorial day observed every 27 January since 2001 in the UK. The Holocaust Remembrance Day is also a national event in the United Kingdom and in Italy.

Barbed wire Flower

2016 Calendar of Holocaust Remembrance Events

“The Holocaust and Human Dignity”

The theme for the Holocaust remembrance and education activities in 2016, including the Holocaust Memorial Ceremony, is “The Holocaust and Human Dignity”.

The theme links Holocaust remembrance with the founding principles of the United Nations and reaffirms faith in the dignity and worth of every person that is highlighted in the United Nations Charter, as well as the right to live free from discrimination and with equal protection under the law that is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Holocaust, which resulted in the destruction of nearly two thirds of European Jewry, remains one of the most painful reminders of the international community’s failure to protect them.

Days of Remembrance

The United States Congress established the Days of Remembrance as the nation’s annual commemoration of the Holocaust. Each year state and local governments, military bases, workplaces, schools, religious organizations, and civic centers host observances and remembrance activities for their communities. These events can occur during the Week of Remembrance, which runs from the Sunday before Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah) through the following Sunday.

Are you interested in organizing an observance? We’re pleased to offer a wide selection of resources featuring many themes and historical anniversaries that will help you find the most appropriate focus for your community.

Why We Remember the Holocaust

Source: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Estelle Laughlin, Holocaust Survivor:
Memory is what shapes us. Memory is what teaches us. We must understand that’s where our redemption is.

Between 1933 and 1945, the German government, led by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, carried out the systematic persecution of and murder of Europe’s Jews. This genocide is now known as the Holocaust. The Nazi regime also persecuted and killed millions of other people it considered politically, racially, or socially unfit. The Allies’ victory ended World War II, but Nazi Germany and its collaborators had left millions dead and countless lives shattered.

Sara Bloomfield, Director, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:
I think the important thing to understand about this cataclysmic event is that it happened in the heart of Europe. Germany was respected around the world for its leading scientists, its physicians, its theologians. It was a very civilized, advanced country. It was a young democracy, but it was a democracy. And yet it descended not only into social collapse but world war and eventually mass murder.

Margit Meissner, Holocaust Survivor:
A strong man came to power in Germany whose ideas were that Germany has to create a national community, which would include only the Aryan race, which he considered superior, and all the people who did not belong to the Aryan race could be eliminated. With planning and propaganda, he was able to convince most of the German people to go along with him, insensitive to what happened to the Jews who had basically been their former neighbors. And he managed to build concentration camps and killing centers and finally gas chambers to annihilate six million Jews and at the same time also millions of others, murdered in a systematic, government-sponsored way.

Raye Farr, Film Curator, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:
And it’s made up of so many people who participated in different ways, who made it possible.

Rev. Dr. Chris Leighton, Institute for Christian and Jewish Studies:
People who follow orders without question, bystanders who watch and do nothing, ordinary men and women simply going with the flow.

Raye Farr, Film Curator, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:
The events and the results of the Holocaust were so devastating. It was an extreme that we can barely imagine.

Rev. Dr. Chris Leighton, Institute for Christian and Jewish Studies:
It’s so mind-boggling that the temptations to forget and to repress, to just put it out of mind, are very real.

Raye Farr, Film Curator, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:
But we remember. We remember because it is an unthinkable scar on humanity. We need to understand what human beings are capable of.

Barack Obama, President of the United States:
We gather today to mourn the loss of so many lives and celebrate those who saved them, honor those who survived, and contemplate the obligations of the living.

Kadian Pow, Museum Educator, Smithsonian Institution:
Days of Remembrance is our nation’s annual commemoration of the Holocaust—this time that was both a blight on the history of humanity but also a shining moment for the people who were brave enough to put an end to it.

Sara Bloomfield, Director, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:
We are remembering, first and foremost, all the victims, and that is not only the Jewish victims, but there were many non-Jewish victims. Of course, the Jews were the primary target.

Estelle Laughlin, Holocaust Survivor:
The millions of innocent people, including my family and friends, who were killed because they were of the wrong religion, because they had no means of protecting themselves.

Sara Bloomfield, Director, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:
It’s also important to remember the rescuers. These were people who risked not only their own lives, sometimes the lives of their family, to save a fellow human being. And we also remember our American soldiers who were fighting to win World War II and in the course of that, liberated these concentration camps.

Col. Michael Underkofler, U.S. Air Force Reserve:
Those that arrived at the camps in 1945 and were just horrified at what they saw.

Carly Gjolaj, Museum Educator, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:
And that was a huge task for the American soldiers: to help bring humanity back to these people who had been dehumanized for years, to give them medical care.

Lt. Col. Terrance Sanders, U.S. Army:
Looking back allows us to understand how important it is for us to serve in a country where we have the strength and the might and the will to defend those that are defenseless.

Rabbi M. Bruce Lustig, Washington Hebrew Congregation:
So Days of Remembrance is an opportunity for us to remember the suffering that was and the efforts that were made to put an end to such suffering, and it’s a call to conscience today in our world to make sure that we aren’t the silent ones standing by, contributing to the suffering of others.

Margit Meissner, Holocaust Survivor:
In 1945, at the end of the war, I would have thought that there would never be another Holocaust, that the world was so shocked by what had happened that the world would not permit that. And yet you see what happened in Bosnia, what happened in Rwanda, what happened in Darfur. So there’s still millions of people being persecuted because of their ethnicity.

Sara Bloomfield, Director, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:
It’s really a moral challenge to us to do more in our own lives when we confront injustice or hatred or genocide.

Bridget Conley-Zilkic, Genocide Prevention Educator, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:
Those who suffered and died in the Holocaust, we can honor them today by not being silent. Remembering ties the past and the present together with a powerful, simple thread: “This is not right.”

Margit Meissner, Holocaust Survivor:
The important thing is that one should not become indifferent to the suffering of others, that one should not stand by and just raise one’s hands and say, “There’s nothing I can do, I’m just a little one person,” because I think what everyone of us does matters.

Estelle Laughlin, Holocaust Survivor:
That’s not enough to curse the darkness of the past. Above all, we have to illuminate the future. And I think that on the Day of Remembrance the most important thing is to remember the humanity that is in all of us to leave the world better for our children and for posterity.

Museum Remembrance Events

US Capitol Rotunda Ceremony

Since 1982, the Museum has organized and led the national Days of Remembrance ceremony in the US Capitol Rotunda with Holocaust survivors, liberators, members of Congress, White House officials, the diplomatic corps, and community leaders in attendance. The 2016 ceremony is tentatively planned for Thursday, May 5.

Names Reading at the Museum

Reading the names of the men, women, and children killed during the Holocaust is a symbolic yet very personal way of remembering these individuals. The Museum will provide lists of victims’ names, or you may bring your own.

Monday, May 2–Friday, May 6, 2016, 11 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Reading time: Approximately five minutes per person
Location: Hall of Remembrance, on the Museum’s Second Floor

Please e-mail volunteerview@ushmm.org with your requested reading time(s) and include your name. Appointments will be reserved on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, call 202.479.9737.

Elie Wiesel Award and National Tribute Dinner

The Elie Wiesel Award recognizes internationally prominent individuals whose actions have advanced the Museum’s vision of a world where people confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity. The Museum presents the award at the annual National Tribute Dinner in the spring in Washington, DC.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

The UN General Assembly designated January 27—the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau—as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On this annual day of commemoration, the UN urges every member state to honor the victims of the Nazi era and to develop educational programs to help prevent future genocides. Learn more.

Past Days of Remembrance

Explore ceremonies from previous years.

 

Jewish man reassuring children before das aus

“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” ~ Elie Wiesel

World War II: The Holocaust

 

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About profesorbaker

Thomas Baker is the Past-President of TESOL Chile (2010-2011). He enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics. The source and inspiration for his writing comes from his family.
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