On the 27th of January 2020, we commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Red Army’s liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1945. The Holocaust survivors attending today’s Commemorative Ceremony in Poland were only 120; it is likely to be the last gathering of its kind at such a significant anniversary. Until now, survivors’ testimonies in schools, universities, museums, have been essential in keeping alive the memory of this human atrocity. As the horrors of the Nazi death camps begins to fade from living memory, it is more important than ever to underline the need to never forget.
The rise of Xenophobic nationalism and the increasing reports of antisemitic incidents are signs of the diminishing force of Holocaust postwar consciousness. Political discourses are too often shaped by the dichotomy of who belongs to the nation and who does not, condemning rather than embracing diversity. Tel Aviv University researchers catalogued nearly 400 attacks against Jewish people in 2018 and more acts of cruelty are perpetuated around the world for reasons of their religion and their race. Discrimination, inequality and intolerance are silent ills still alive in our society and incremented by social media, which serve as a platform for hatred and racist thoughts.
Warning about the “mainstreaming” of antisemitism, the writer and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel said that the opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. This cannot be truer in a world where ignorance and misperceptions about historical past reigns. For instance, fewer than half of American adults know how many Jews were killed in the Holocaust; 5% of UK adults do not believe the Holocaust took place and 1 in 12 believes its scale has been exaggerated, a survey from Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) has found. Fighting this shocking denial and ignorance is key to prevent and hopefully cure antisemitism and other religious discrimination.
Survivors have been brave enough to deliver such difficult stories under a sense of duty for both the dead and the living, conveying the tragedy of million. This should not fade away, be forgotten. We must continue to keep alive the memory of such atrocity because it is just from knowing and understanding our history that we can escape the dangers of failing to learn where a lack of respect for difference can ultimately lead. Everyone should be taught the lesson that “who does not learn from history is doomed to repeat it”.