Holocaust survivors pair with students to tell their stories in a new documentary “My Survivor”
World leaders, marches, memorials and other events across the globe are commemorating International Holocaust Remembrance Day today, Jan. 27.
The date marks the 74th anniversary of the Allied liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland, where an estimated 1.1 million people died, including 1 million Jews, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum..
Here’s what you need to know.
1. The United Nations established it
The United Nations set Jan. 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2005, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
The Nov. 1, 2005, resolution honors the victims of Nazism, including Jews, Poles, Roma, Soviet prisoners of war and others, the museum says.
About 2,200 people attended first commemoration in 2006 at the U.N. Headquarters in New York City. Since 2010, the U.N. has designated themes for each year’s commemorations focusing on some aspect of the Holocaust, according to the museum.
This year’s theme is “torn from home,” according to The Sun.
“On HMD 2019 we will reflect on what happens when individuals, families and communities are driven out of, or wrenched from their homes, because of persecution or the threat of genocide, alongside the continuing difficulties survivors face as they try to find and build new homes when the genocide is over,” according to the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.
2. It marks the liberation of Auschwitz
Soviet soldiers liberated the Auschwitz death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland on Jan. 27, 1945, according to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum.
In all, about 1.3 million Nazi prisoners were shipped to the Auschwitz complex of camps, most of whom later died or were executed. Many were murdered in the camp’s infamous gas chambers under the guise of being sent to take showers, according to the museum.
Auschwitz was the largest Nazi concentration camp and the largest center for the “immediate, direct extermination of Jews,” the museum says.
3. It promotes Holocaust education, and rejects denial
The resolution that marked Jan. 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day “also rejects any form of Holocaust denial,” according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
The Holocaust was a genocidal event where Jews were targeted by the Nazis in World War II, according to the History Channel. Nazi leader Adolf Hitler believed Jews were an “inferior race” and a “threat to racial purity.”
“Holocaust denial” describes when facts regarding “the systematic murder of around 6 million Jews in World War II” are either denied or distorted, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Some denials include that Jews were never murdered during World War II (or that 6 million is an exaggeration), that “The Diary of Anne Frank” is fake and that poison gas chambers did not exist in Auschwitz, according to the United States Holocaust Museum.
This remembrance day also serves as a way to promote Holocaust education. In a 2018 poll conducted by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, 22 percent of millennials said they had never heard of the Holocaust or weren’t sure if they had heard of it, the Washington Post previously reported.
In Britain, one in 20 adults do not believe the Holocaust happened, according to the Associated Press. The survey was conducted by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, and the results were released Sunday.
4. World leaders are taking part
Numerous world leaders are commemorating International Holocaust Remembrance Day at memorials or online, including many on Twitter.
“Today, we mourn the loss of the millions of Jews & countless other victims of the Holocaust, and vow: Never again,” wrote Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Twitter.
In a video in advance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, German Chancellor Angela Merkel decried anti-semitism, The Jerusalem Post reported.
“People growing up today must know what people were capable of in the past, and we must work proactively to ensure that it is never repeated,” Merkel said, according to the publication.
“No words can ever do justice to the six million souls who were so cruelly murdered in the Holocaust – but we can pay a fitting tribute through our deeds today,” wrote British Prime Minister Theresa May on Twitter.
Pope Francis asked that people don’t forget about the Holocaust victims.
“Their unspeakable suffering continues to cry out to humanity: We are all brothers and sisters!” he wrote on Twitter.
Ivanka Trump, daughter of U.S. President Donald Trump, wrote “we recognize International Holocaust Remembrance Day to commemorate and honor the lives lost to evil and the strength of those who stood up to confront it.”
Two weeks ago, President Donald Trump signed the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act, which says genocide prevention is a “core national interest” in the U.S., The Hill reported.
Descendants of Holocaust victims and survivors also are marking the day on Twitter.
“Remembering my mother who fled the Nazis from Austria,” wrote actor David Schneider on Twitter. “After the war she refused to hate and made friends with ordinary Germans. That was one way she tried to make sure it never happened again. In these conflicted times she remains an inspiration.”
“There is a reason Tugendhat isn’t a common name,” wrote Tom Tugendhat, a British Member of Parliament. “Very few of us left Austria. Those who stayed in their homes were murdered by those they thought of as fellow citizens. Every day is Holocaust Memorial Day.”
5. Events are scheduled across the globe
Around the globe, sites in almost 30 countries will simultaneously play a documentary that discusses how “journalists, scholars, and community leaders secretly documented Nazi atrocities,” according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The documentary — “Who Will Write Our History?” — will play from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Eastern time. The event is free, but the museum is no longer taking reservations.
Auschwitz survivors, priests and Memorial staff gathered on International Holocaust Remembrance Day to lay wreaths at the former concentration camp, Euro News reported.
The Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and Museum in Jerusalem is holding tours and other programs to honor the victims and remember the Holocaust.
In Warsaw, Poland, the Museum of the History of Polish Jews is hosting remembrance ceremonies in front of its Monument to the Ghetto Heroes.
On Monday, the United Nations Department of Global Communications is holding a Holocaust Memorial Ceremony in New York.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum asks that people share how they honored Holocaust victims with the hashtag, #WeRemember.