Generations have been taught that it is important to know and remember what has happened throughout history, so that we can understand and learn from past mistakes in order to avoid repeating them in the future.
It is in that spirit that on May 2, millions of people worldwide remembered the countless victims of the Holocaust as the world observes Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The term Holocaust refers specifically to the ethnic cleansing carried out by the Nazis during World War II. Numbering almost 11 million deaths, it is undoubtedly one of the most horrendous crimes against humanity ever.
The Holocaust, as a historical event, encompasses the period between 1938 and 1945. It’s victims ranged from Jews to gypsies to the physically disabled. Singled out as the primary target, individuals of Jewish descent suffered around 6 million deaths during the Holocaust—almost 65% of European Jewry.
Other victims of the dehumanizing practices of the Nazis during the Holocaust included homosexuals, Johova’s witnesses and individuals of Polish descent, to name a few. Aside from brutal deaths, the Nazis are infamous for notorious experiments performed on “lower” races both inside and outside the fences of concentration camps.
Tearing apart families, escorting innocents to the gas chambers and sterilizing black children for “medical purposes” are just some of the stories that have emerged from this dark period in human history.
On May 2, black tablecloths were laid out with burning candles on top. There were numerous films and presentations made available These simple gestures represent those 11 million.
Holocaust Remembrance Day is a time for reflection on a past too horrific and vivid to forget, an important lesson for future generations. This lesson can best be summarized in the words of Martin Niemoller, an anti-Nazi German pastor.
“First, they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist,” Niemoller said. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t 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.”For more information on Holocaust Remembrance Day, contact the DePaul Hillel at email@example.com.