27 Jan 2012

International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust

"Denying historical facts, especially on such an important subject as the Holocaust, is just not acceptable. Nor is it acceptable to call for the elimination of any State or people. I would like to see this fundamental principle respected both in rhetoric and in practice by all the members of the international community".

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, 14 December 2006

On January 27 each year, the United Nations (UN) remembers the Holocaust that affected many people of Jewish origin during World War II. This day is called the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust.
The day also commemorates when the Soviet troops liberated the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland on January 27, 1945. It is hoped that through remembering these events, people will remember the Holocaust and prevent genocide. The importance of such days of remembrance grows each year as fewer and fewer survivors remain to tell us their story and witness to their suffering.
"To speak in this place of horror, in this place where unprecedented mass crimes were committed against God and man, is almost impossible - and it is particularly difficult and troubling for a Christian, for a Pope from Germany. In a place like this, words fail; in the end, there can only be a dread silence - a silence which is itself a heartfelt cry to God: Why, Lord, did you remain silent? How could you tolerate all this? In silence, then, we bow our heads before the endless line of those who suffered and were put to death here; yet our silence becomes in turn a plea for forgiveness and reconciliation, a plea to the living God never to let this happen again."

Pope Benedict XVI - Auschwitz Camp 28 May 2006

Whilst the impetuous behind the Day of Commemoration was the remembrance of the Shoah where millions of Jew's were murdered and exterminated in concentration camps across Nazi occupied Europe, it is also a day to recall the other genocides and murders which have occurred and the forgotten victims of such events in Armenia 1915, the Soviet Gulags, the Ukrainian famine (Holodomar) 1932-33, Cambodia's Killing Fields, the Congo, Rwanda's 1994 genocide and many more known only to God.

We pause to remember, for those that forget their history - and this is our history, the history of man's inhumanity towards man-  will be condemned to repeat it again.

Further reflections and links here and here.

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