On January 27th every year, the world commemorates the tragedy that occurred during World War II as a result of the Holocaust. The memorial day is known as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On this day, many people across the world recall the genocide that was carried out by the Nazi regime together with its collaborators, resulting to the death of approximately 6 million Jewish people, 9,000 gay men, 200,000 Romani people, and 250,000 people who were physically and mentally disabled. International Holocaust Remembrance Day was designated on November 1st, 2005 by the UN General Assembly. However, the resolution came following a special session that was held on January 24th, 2005 when the United Nations General Assembly was marking the 60th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust and the abolition of the Nazi concentration camps.
Overview of the Holocaust
The massacre of millions of people by the Nazi regime was a result of Adolf Hitler, who termed it the ‘Final Solution.’ Atrocities perpetrated against the victims were so vile that the horror of the death toll does not diminish with time. Between 1939 and 1945, millions of lives were claimed and most victims were taken to death camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau, which was located in Nazi occupied Poland. Before the killings, Poland had a population of about 3,300,000 Jews, and it is believed that about 90% of them were massacred by the Nazi regime. The 2017 International Holocaust Remembrance Day marks the 72nd anniversary of the day some 7,000 prisoners were liberated from the Auschwitz concentration camp. The victims were imprisoned in a mixture of concentration camps ranging from extermination camps where approximately 6,000 Jews were gassed to death every day, to labor camps where prisoners were forced into hard labor. Auschwitz-Birkenau, which was established in 1942, was the largest extermination camp. Other extermination camps included Chelmno Treblinka, Majdanek, Sobibor, and Belzec. Victims also died in labor camps such as Buchenwald, which was the largest concentration camp in Germany.
Commemorations Outside the UN
Outside the United Nations, Holocaust Remembrance Day commemorations are held in Jerusalem, Israel at Yad Vashem and in Washington, DC at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM). Since 2012, the commemorations of the Remembrance Day in Austria have been held in Vienna at the Heldenpatz. The Jetzt Zeichen setzen is a broad platform used for calling out the civil society’s participation. Some of the speakers include politicians from various political parties, Holocaust survivors, and anti-fascist activists.
Commemorations by the Nation of Israel
In remembrance of the Holocaust, Israel’s national memorial day, also known as Yom HaShoah, is held on the 27th day of Nisan. International Holocaust Remembrance Day is also observed in the country. On this day, ceremonies are held across Israel, and diplomats, ambassadors, and government officials visit Yad Vashem. As part of commemorating the Holocaust, the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs presents before the government of Israel the annual report on anti-Semitism every year. The report features a review of incidents and the main trends pertaining anti-Semitism and battling anti-Semitism.
Commemoration in Other Regions
Before the UN General Assembly resolution 60/7, countries such as Germany held national days of commemorating the Holocaust. For instance, the country held the day of remembrance for the victims of National Socialism which was established on January 3rd, 1996 following a proclamation issued by Roman Herzog the Federal President. The Holocaust Memorial Day has been observed since the year 2001 in the UK, and it is a national event in both Italy and the UK.