Why We Need Holocaust Remembrance Day

April 12 marked Holocaust Remembrance Day. Here at Boston University, there was a tent set up in Marsh Plaza where the names of all the victims were said aloud all day and there were survivors all over campus telling their stories. Unfortunately, those stories are dying out as those who went through the horrific events of the Holocaust are dying. My own grandmother was on a kinder transport from her hometown of Vienna, Austria to England where she and her sister eagerly awaited the arrival of their parents and younger sister. It is a day that many Jews like myself hold dear because it reminds us of the tragic events that occurred all those years ago in Germany, not just to our people, but to everyone deemed sub-human.

Sadly, an article released on the same day by The New York Times stated that a recent survey conducted by the Claims Conference found that many adults lack basic knowledge about the Holocaust and this lack of knowledge is most prominent among millennials like myself.

“Thirty-one percent of Americans, and 41 percent of millennials, believe that two million or fewer Jews were killed in the Holocaust; the actual number is around six million. Forty-one percent of Americans, and 66 percent of millennials, cannot say what Auschwitz was. And 52 percent of Americans wrongly think Hitler came to power through force.”

I know I had the benefit of a Jewish day school education and the Holocaust is something I’ve been learning about in detail since I was about 12 years old, but the lack of general knowledge baffles me. How is it that the world has begun to forget or convolute such important information about a time that is so dark in Germany’s history, but also the world’s history?

The pictures of the tattoos, emaciated concentration camp victims, the “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign that stood at the gates of Auschwitz, and the still standing concentration camps give definitive proof that the Jews, homosexuals, Romanis, and all other victims suffered horrible conditions and were put to death for their beliefs.

We talk about wrongful persecution and racism in today’s society all the time. We need to talk about the Holocaust. What about wearing colored badges to show the status of your sub-humanness? What about having your nose measured to determine if you were or Jew or being punished for not having blonde hair and blue eyes like the perfect Aryan?

We need to remember all of these tragedies: the Holocaust, police brutality, the Armenian Genocide. We need to remember them because if we forget these people and their stories and what we can learn, then we are in danger of succumbing to the same fate once again.

I have grown up listening to survivors of the Holocaust—my family, my friend’s families, guest speakers in school—and the idea that people can forget these facts and faces or deny the events of the Holocaust as a whole baffle me.

We need this day. We need to remember this tragedy and take its lessons as we go forward so the phrase “never again” does not become a commonality. We need this day to show we will remember these people and their lives and will prove to the world that this kind of tragedy truly will never happen again.

As a Jew and as a human, I am committed to sharing the stories I’ve heard to ensure these things don’t keep happening and I hope you will too.  

Cover photo via history.com

 

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