Today is Holocaust Memorial Day. On the 27th January, for the past 15 years the UK has held a national commemoration day for the Holocaust. The 27th January, is the date that Auschwitz Concentration Camp was liberated by the Soviet Union. However, it is just not the Holocaust that this day represents, it is also a national memorial day for other Genocides such as Armenia, Bosnia, Cambodia, Darfur and Rwanda.
Last year marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz Concentration camp, and perhaps people today are wondering why 70 years later we need still need a day to remember the Holocaust. Every year, there are fewer and fewer people alive today who survived the Holocaust. Very soon, the Holocaust will pass from living memory. It’s so important that when the Holocaust makes the important transition from living to past memory, that it is never forgotten.
Why is it important to remember? The Holocaust acts as a remember of the extreme evil groups of people can inflict on people for whatever reason: be it their religion, their race, their shared cultural identity. The systematic destruction and removal of a group of people simple because they are seen as different or ‘life unworthy of life’ is the most evil and dreadful thing to be witnessed by humanity.
The human race is built on uniqueness, that uniqueness is so important. It does not matter what a person’s age, gender, race, ethnicity, language, religion, social-economic status is. These are characteristics that make the human race, they are not a reason to hate a specific group of people, or to victimise and group of people, to kill a group of people.
The Holocaust represents a point in time when horrific and unspeakably evil things happened to Jews, Homosexuals, Roma, Prisoners of War, Asocials, Criminals, people who spoke out against a regime, people who were labelled as unworthy to life by those in power. Millions were sysmatically and ruthlessly killed.
After the Holocaust, there is a saying that this should never happen again, nie wieder (never again), yet since the Holocaust there have been other documented acts of Genocide; Cambodia (1975-9), Rwanda (1994), Srebrenica (1995). Genocide is not just confined to the dark periods of History. Darfur (2003-present) is ongoing. There are also those that have not yet officially been recognised as an act of Genocide. Currently, the ISIS state is targeting the Yazidi people, a minority group of around half a million people who speak Kurdish. ISIS defines the Yazidi religion as Devil Worship. Thousands of been executed, hundreds of thousands are missing. People are forced into sexual slavery, are forced to marry and convert. It is clear that the idea that never again should the destruction of a ethnic group be sysmatically removed and destroyed is being ignored again and again and again. Until there is a time that we can never again, and know that it means never again; that there will always be a need to remember, to write, to never forget, to speak out to demand action.
Martin Niemöller, a concentration camp survivor summed it up best:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
That is why Holocaust Memorial Day, today, is so important. However, it should never just be convinced to one day, next time you read a newspaper and the belittle someone because of their low socio-economic status, for being an asylum seeker trying to enter a country and survive. Remember. This is not acceptable. It is never acceptable and one should always speak out and say it is not acceptable.