Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a time to reflect and mourn a devastating event in history that caused the mass execution of six million Jews and 11 million people in total between 1941 and 1945. January 27, 2021 commemorates 76 years since the liberation of Auschwitz, the largest concentration camp complex.
To this day, the world’s Jewish population has not recovered from the Holocaust. The six million Jews that were killed made up over two-thirds of the European Jewish population and one-third of the world Jewish population at the time. According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, there were 14.7 million Jews worldwide at the end of 2018, still far short of the 16.6 million estimated to have been alive pre-World War II in 1939. The Holocaust still has an overwhelming impact on Jewish communities today both in numbers and cultural significance.
As the Jewish population rises, so does antisemitism all over the world. Just recently during the insurrection on the U.S. Capitol, there were “Camp Auschwitz” sweatshirts with the acronym 6MWE (Six Million Wasn’t Enough). It is important to remember that though we may not see antisemitism with our own eyes it is still very much a growing danger.
A Tabor student, Jenna Lewis ’22, shares her family’s relation to the Holocaust and how it has affected her life:
“Truthfully, I didn’t know there was a Holocaust Remembrance Day until this year. Maybe that’s because as the only granddaughter of Holocaust survivors everyday is a reminder of how I came to be. Regardless of my own story, what I have always been told is a simple phrase: ‘never forget’. We must never forget what happened a mere two generations ago, not just for the sake of grief and sorrow but to empower future generations in preventing another atrocity from occurring again.”
The JSU also provided the Tabor community with some resources for further learning and contemplation:
Online exhibition: "My Lost Childhood."
Of the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust, over one million were children. This collection of stories focuses on seven children's homes established after the war for child Holocaust survivors who were scattered across Europe, traumatized and stranded, when the Holocaust was over.
Commemorating individual victims: The IRemember Wall
. The IRemember Wall is a database of names found in Yad Vashem’s Central Database of Shoah (Holocaust) Victims’ Names. Those who choose to participate can enter their name and will be randomly paired with a name from the database. This site is very moving as it allows people to see the faces, read the names, and learn a little bit about the stories of actual Holocaust victims. *Note- this site is in German, but the English translation is easily accessible.*
Virtual museum exhibit: The Shoah
. This site provides an overview of a newly installed exhibition at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum. According to the website: “The exhibition is thus a truly unique expression of the primary dimensions of the Holocaust, placing the human being at its very center.” Since the museum is not open for visitors, photos and descriptions of the exhibit are posted online.