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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Germans being confronted with their legacy of murder by Allied troops

Today is the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The real Holocaust Remembrance Day takes place on the 27th day of Nisan on the Hebrew calendar. It marks the anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising. In Hebrew, Holocaust Remembrance Day is called Yom Hashoah. When the actual date of Yom Hashoah falls on a Friday, the state of Israel observes Yom Hashoah on the preceding Thursday. When it falls on a Sunday, Yom Hashoah is observed on the following Monday. This year it will fall on Sunday, April 11th, so it will be observed on Monday, April 12th.

January 27th is the day when the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp was liberated by Soviet forces.

From Wikipedia:

Auschwitz was a network of concentration and extermination camps built and operated in occupied Poland by Nazi Germany during the Second World War. It was the largest of the German concentration camps, consisting of Auschwitz I (the Stammlager or main camp); Auschwitz II-Birkenau (the Vernichtungslager or extermination camp); Auschwitz III-Monowitz, also known as Buna, a labor camp; and 45 satellite camps.[1]

Auschwitz is the German name for Oświęcim, the town the camps were located in and around; it was renamed by the Germans after they invaded Poland in September 1939. Birkenau, the German translation of Brzezinka (birch tree), refers to a small Polish village nearby that was mostly destroyed by the Germans to make way for the camp.

Auschwitz II-Birkenau was designated by Heinrich Himmler, Germany's Minister of the Interior, as the locus of the "final solution of the Jewish question in Europe." From spring 1942 until the fall of 1944, transport trains delivered Jews to the camp's gas chambers from all over Nazi-occupied Europe.[2] The camp's first commandant, Rudolf Höss, testified after the war at the Nuremberg Trials that up to three million people had died there, a figure since revised to 1.1 million, around 90 percent of them Jews.[3] Others deported to Auschwitz included 150,000 Poles, 23,000 Roma and Sinti, 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war, and tens of thousands of other nationalities.[4] Those not killed in the gas chambers died of starvation, forced labor, lack of disease control, individual executions, and purported medical experiments.[5]

On January 27, 1945, Auschwitz was liberated by Soviet troops, a day commemorated around the world as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. In 1947, Poland founded a museum on the site of Auschwitz I and II, which by 1994 had seen 22 million visitors—700,000 annually—pass through the iron gates crowned with the infamous motto, Arbeit macht frei ("work makes you free").

And this short segment from CNN allows you to hear from three survivors of that network of camps where over a million people were murdered by the German National Socialist Workers Party, better known as Nazis...

Here is a fictional dramatization of Auschwitz as portrayed in "War and Remembrance"...

May we never forget what happened...

May we never allow it to happen again...