Holocaust Memorial Day -Remembering the Victims of Genocide

 

The following Remember Me blog was written by guest-blogger Evelyn Rose. Evelyn is a Second Year undergraduate Historian at the University of Hull where she is learning about the Holocaust and other human rights abuses as part of her studies.

‘Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it’.

– George Santayana

George Santayana the Philosopher famously wrote: “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This is a key reason as to why people, especially young people should remember the victims of the Holocaust. Young people are the next generation, the more they know and learn, the more they can do to prevent it ever happening again. The victims of the genocide should always be remembered. Many are unknown to records or the public, but they are known by someone.

I visited Auschwitz I and Auschwitz Birkenau as well as, attended the 70th anniversary of the Liberation of Bergen Belsen in Germany. I will never forget what I saw and experienced there. Seeing the cart millions of people arrived in at Birkenau was overwhelming. At Birkenau, there is a section that was known as Camp Canada. It was named that by the prisoners at the time. It was where all belongings were sent to, divided up and stored. It has now been converted into a memorial of the victims with their family photos that they took with them not knowing what was about to happen. Testimonies from survivors are an important way of educating young people about the Holocaust. Learning about it in schools can be hard but listening to someone’s experience is what brings the emotional side of remembering the victims. When they mention their feelings at the time and description of their surroundings, as hard as it is to think about that, it allows you to understand the fear of the unknown that the victims went through. Young people can get access to testimonies very easily. They are available in the form of books, interviews on YouTube, blog posts on memorial websites and many other ways.

auschwitz-carriage
Carriage people were transported to Auschwitz on. Taken at Auschwitz. Photograph copyright Evelyn Rose.

It is very important that we remember the victims not only in labour camps or concentration camps but also, those in Ghettos or public. Life in Germany changed drastically very quickly, people had to adapt their lifestyles in order to survive. It is common to think that all those who remained living at home were supporters of the Nazi regime but many were not. They did what it took to survive for their families but they can still be regarded as victims of what occurred. This was a forced change on everyone’s life.

It is stated that 6 million Jewish men, women and children were killed in the Holocaust. This is extremely important to remember but it is vital to remember that other nationalities were victims too. People from Poland that weren’t Jewish, prisoners of war, Lithuanians, disabled people, homosexuals and the list continues. All of these people have the right to be remembered and when thinking about the Holocaust it should not be remembered solely as a Jewish genocide.

Yes it is important that everyone remembers the horrific event that took place and remember those who risked their life to stop it and were victims of it, but through young people, the next generation of teachers, lawyers and politicians, they can make the difference of preventing it happening again. Discovering victim stories can bring young people a sense of determination to make their experience significant in many ways. Through young people implementing peace into their lives and remembrance of those that wanted peace but were wrongly taken from the world, it can inspire many others.

bergen-belsen-memorial
Bergen Belsen Memorial. Stones are messages about remembrance of the Victims. Photograph copyright Evelyn Rose.

The Holocaust and all genocide victims can be remembered in many ways. Holocaust Memorial Day is an important day in remembering the victims but we should remember them every day. Many sacrificed their lives and through referring back to George Santayana, if we remember them, it is preventing it from happening again.

For those close to the city of Hull, please come along to the civic service marking this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day. The ceremony will take place between 7 and 8.30 pm on Thursday, 26th January 2017. Venue: The Guildhall, Alfred Gelder Street, Hull, HU1 2AA. Booking is not required.

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Information about other Holocaust Memorial Day events in Yorkshire and the Humber can be found here: http://hmd.org.uk/events/find/Yorkshire%20and%20The%20Humber

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Marcin says:

    Really interesting and good article. We should also remember about the large number of Roma people who were killed in the concentration camps during the World War II.

    Like

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