Holocaust Memorial Day

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day. It is 65 years since 27 January 1945, the day the Soviet army liberated the largest of the Nazi concentration camps, Auschwitz-Birkenau.  

As a teenager I first learned about that place and others like it after reading the Diary of Ann Frank. Later I learned much more.

The horror really came home to me in 2006 when I went to Poland and visited the museum site of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

It wasn't the railway track, the huts, the vast area covered by these 2 camps, or being led with other tourists into a gas chamber, that got me. It was a small glass museum case containing beautiful hand-stitched baby garments. Some mother or grandmother had lovingly prepared these for a child who never lived to grow out of them and who probably never wore them. So much hope for the baby's future must have gone into those stitches. For  what? So a mother and grandmother like me can weep over them decades later? And remember that genocide around the world did not end in 1945? That there have been many subsequent genocides? Cambodia, Bosnia Rwanda, Darfur...

It could happen again, anywhere, anytime. History since WW2 demonstrates that. A commemoration like today is important, not only to reflect on what leads people to commit such apalling atrocities, but also to contribute to creating a legacy of hope for the future.

The Legacy of Hope is the theme chosen for 2010 by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust. I found these words on their website:
Our responsibility is to remember those who were persecuted and murdered, because their lives were wasted. Our challenge is to make the experience and words of the victims and survivors of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides a meaningful part of our future. The aspirations of those who have suffered from the effects of the Holocaust and of genocide around the world, should inform our lives today. Their words can make us think about our own attitudes, our behaviour, our choices, the way we vote, the way we interact with one another, the way we respect and celebrate the differences between us and the way in which we build a safer future together. It is their example that can inspire us to greater action. We need to ask ourselves what we should be doing today to build a safer, stronger society so that the risk of the building blocks of genocide ever being laid is removed.
As humanitarian activist Hugo Slim says of the voices that speak out of tragedy to our shared sense of humanity: “We need to listen, for a change.” 

Take a look at some excellent resources
and light a candle of hope here.


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