Today, January 27th, is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This year marks the 76th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp. But while this solemn day is observed on the anniversary of their deliverance, it is meant to remember one of the most horrible moments in the history of God’s people.
From 1941 to 1945 Nazi Germany and its collaborators committed the systematic murder of over six million Jews. The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, was Nazi Germany’s “Final Solution” for eliminating all Jewish people within Nazi Germany’s grasp. By the end of this heinous act, roughly two-thirds of Europe’s Jewish population had been murdered.
Some have attempted, on social media, to compare the coronavirus quarantine to Anne Frank hiding in an attic for years during World War II. There is no comparison. We have televisions, cell phones, internet, plenty of food and the ability to go outside. No one is trying to kill us No one is selecting us for death because of our religion. The virus is taking lives, but it’s not the same. There have been over 2 million deaths worldwide, but there was no evil in this. Only tragedy.
Unfortunately, a recent survey showed that 63% of young Americans had no idea that over six million Jewish people were murdered in a mass genocide during World War II. That fact is not surprising. There is an insidious surge in Holocaust remembrance-shaming, hidden under the veil of “Holocaust exploitation,” and perpetuated by the delicate yet ironically despotic sensibilities of those who want to shame World War II collective consciousness into historical oblivion. In 2021, this collective amnesia has reached a frustrating and terrible level.
As the past few years have shown the world, authoritarianism is a constant threat to democracy, and democracy is fragile even in the most stable of republics. The past must be evoked as a measure of comparison and as a constant reminder of what can be lost in the blink of an eye. In what concerns the sociopolitical events of the past few years, the comparisons to the past have been endless, and essential. This is why we need a Holocaust Remembrance Day because these battles are constantly being waged over and over again. Hate never disappears. It just takes a break for a while.
This is why we need to remember the Holocaust. We need to remember six million of God’s children who were murdered, simply because of their faith. But it does not need to be all about bad memories. As we remember important moments like these, we can realize that it’s God speaking to us.
Holocaust survivors know something about mourning loved ones when you can’t say goodbye in person or attend a funeral. They know something about rebuilding your life when the economy is in shambles and all of your money is gone. They know something about holding on to hope when all seems lost. It is that hope that we need to hold on to.