FRIDAY, JANUARY 27: A focus on children dominates this year’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and today—the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Berkenau—every United Nations member nation is asked to commemorate the memory of those who perished during the Nazi genocide. Wikipedia has details about this relatively recent observance.
(Note: The much older annual remembrance of the Holocaust, Yom Hashoah, falls on April 19 this year.)
Following a 2005 session that marked the 60th anniversary of the liberation of concentration camps and the end of the Holocaust, the United Nations established International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Countries worldwide remember the 6 million European Jews and millions of others who lost their lives during the massive Nazi “Final Solution.” Each Jan. 27, the United Nations reinforces its rejection of denial of the Holocaust; its rejection of religious intolerance; and the need to preserve Holocaust sites. (Learn more from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.)
This year, special attention is brought to the children of the Holocaust: those who survived, those who lost their lives and the will of the young to continue living. Through exhibitions and speeches, the UN notes the uniquely horrifying impact that war has on the young and innocent. (UN.org has the story.)
The camp we know as Auschwitz actually was a complex of three camps, and together, they were the largest such facility established by the Nazi regime. Auschwitz II—also known as Auschwitz-Birkenau—was established in 1942, and of the three camps, Auschwitz II contained the highest number of prisoners. (The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has more information.) Between 1942 and 1944, more than 1 million Jews were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau; most Jews there came from Hungary, in numbers approximated at 426,000. It wasn’t until Jan. 27, 1945 that Soviet forces evacuated Auschwitz.
Major observances of International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2012 include an exhibition of portraits of Jews drawn by Jewish artists during the Holocaust, titled, “Last Portrait: Painting for Posterity” in Yad Vashem, Jerusalem; an “I Honor Wall” event on Yad Vashem’s Facebook page; and an exhibition that features children’s stories during the Holocaust, titled, “A Monument of Good Deeds: Dreams and Hopes of Children During the Holocaust” at the United Nations in New York. (Get the scoop at YadVashem.org.) The New York exhibit will afterward be hosted by children’s museums around the United States.