World marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Pandemic pushes memorial services online as the world recalls the Nazi program to exterminate an entire people.

By World Israel News Staff

International Holocaust Remembrance Day, in commemoration of the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, was marked Wednesday by online events with the coronavirus pandemic forcing the cancellation of large memorial services commemorating the Nazi genocide of the Jews in World War II.

The worldwide event was enshrined by a United Nations resolution in 2005, the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, where 1 million Jews from all over Europe were murdered in gas chambers or starved to death, along with an additional 100,000 victims from Poland, Russia and elsewhere.

In a statement on its website, the UN said this commemoration comes “against a global context of rising anti-Semitism and increasing levels of disinformation and hate speech.”

“Holocaust education and remembrance is even more urgent, as is the development of a historical literacy to counter repeated attempts to deny and distort the history of the Holocaust,” the UN statement said.

“Remembering the Holocaust is a moral duty. Not only to pay tribute to victims. But also to renew our allegiance to our deepest human values,” tweeted Charles Michel, President of the European Council. “We, Europeans, have a special responsibility to fulfill this duty. Anti-Semitism has no place in our societies.”

Eisenhower: ‘The things I saw beggar description”

The Holocaust Museum in Washington posted a note on its Facebook page, showing Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower at the at Ohrdruf concentration camp in April 1945, the first Nazi concentration camp liberated by the U.S. Army.

“Eisenhower had studied his World War II enemy, but he was unprepared for the Nazi brutality he witnessed,” the museum said. “What he witnessed changed him. He saw bodies piled like wood and living skeletons struggling to survive. Eisenhower also saw another danger. He foresaw a day when the horrors of the Holocaust might be denied.”

In his notes on the visit to the camp, Eisenhower wrote:

“The things I saw beggar description … The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were so overpowering as to leave me a bit sick. In one room, where they were piled up twenty or thirty naked men, killed by starvation, [General] George Patton would not even enter. He said that he would get sick if he did so. I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in a position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to ‘propaganda.'”

The annual ceremony at the Auschwitz memorial in Poland has been moved online due to the coronavirus pandemic. The director of the Auschwitz Museum, Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński, described the horror of the number of young children murdered in the camp by the Nazis.

“Over 200,000 children were murdered in Auschwitz. Completely innocent, good, curious about life, loving their closest ones, trusting children,” Dr. Cywiński said on the memorial’s website. “The adult world – after all, so often unjust and cruel – has never demonstrated so much of its heartlessness, its evil. This cannot be justified by any ideology, reckoning or politics. This year we want to dedicate the anniversary of liberation to the youngest victims of the camp.”

At least 232,000 children were deported to Auschwitz, of whom 216,000 were Jews, 11,000 Roma, about 3,000 Poles, more than 1,000 Belarusians, and several hundred Russians, Ukrainians, and others. Only a few more than 700 were alive when the camp was liberated by Russian forces.

Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. and UN, Gilad Erdan, warned that “76 years after millions endured the worst hell on earth … Today, there is another genocidal regime epitomizing the very words and actions of the Nazis.”

“Iran does not try to hide its intention of destroying the world’s only Jewish State. It spreads anti-Semitism, denies the Holocaust & has proposed legislation calling for Israel’s destruction by the year 2041,” Erdan told the UN.

“The UN Security Council must not allow the world’s most dangerous regime to possess the world’s most dangerous weapon. Israel knows how to protect its citizens. We will never allow Iran to become a nuclear power,” Erdan tweeted.

As of the end of 2020, 179,600 Holocaust survivors were living in Israel, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported, adding that 17,000 survivors had passed away last year.