On January 27, 1945, the Auschwitz Nazi death camp in Poland was liberated by the Soviet Union. Sixty years later, the United Nations officially declared January 27th a day of remembrance for the six million Jews, two hundred fifty thousand Roma people, nineteen hundred Jehovah’s witnesses, two hundred fifty thousand disabled people, and hundreds of homosexuals (the exact number is unknown) who were killed during the Holocaust (Bard, 20). And now more than ever, it is crucial we remember this tragedy.
The Holocaust refers to the genocide of minority groups in Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II. Many people were barred from attending schools, owning businesses, and practicing their religion. It got to the point where Nazi soldiers lurked the streets, looking to send these minority people to their deaths. The lucky ones fled Europe or went into hiding, while the rest were thrown into concentration camps and killed. Even though this was eighty years ago, Nazi ideas are still very much present.
According to the FBI, hate crimes tend to be racially biased, with 41% of them being anti-black, and 13% anti-hispanic/latinx. 56.9% of religious hate crimes were against Jewish people, and 14.6% were anti-Islamic. Clearly these white supremacist ideas have not gone away. That is why it is so important to remember the Holocaust. Educating others on this misunderstood piece of history and sharing survivor stories could greatly reduce hate crimes and Nazi ideology. Unfortunately, there is a growing number of people who are misinformed or in disbelief about the Holocaust. About 1 in 10 Americans don’t know what the Holocaust is (Ramgopal, 20). The executive vice president of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, Greg Schneider, says, “If we let these trends continue for another generation, the crucial lessons from this terrible part of history could be lost.”
But why? Why are some people trying to trivialize or deny the existence of the Holocaust, when clear evidence exists? Most want to wash away the stain of Nazi political ideology. Holocaust deniers want to make Nazism an acceptable political theory to reinstate. By denying the Holocaust, they can pass off their blatant bigotry as “truth seeking ”. That is why honoring Holocaust rememberance day is so important.
Educating, learning, and remembering this topic has the potential to prevent others from falling down the rabbit hole of neo-nazism and prevent the spread of misinformation. Schools often hesitate to discuss the Holocaust in depth because it is a graphic and distressing topic. But this was a real event that affected hundreds of millions of people. Gen-Z will be the last to hear survivor stories first hand. Therefore, it is our duty to learn and tell other people as much as we can about the past to prevent history from repeating itself.
Bard, Mitchell. “Documenting Numbers of Victims of the Holocaust & Nazi Persecution.” jewishvirtuallibrary.org, 2020, https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/documenting-numbers-of-victims-of-the-holocaust Accessed 18 February 2021.
Museum of Tolerance. “What is Holocaust Denial?” museumoftolerance.com, 2018, https://www.museumoftolerance.com/education/teacher-resources/holocaust-resources/what-is-holocaust-denial.html#1. Accessed 18 February 2021.
Ramgopal, Kit. “Survey Finds ‘shocking’ lack of Holocaust knowledge among millennials and Gen Z.” NBCnews.com, NBC, 16 September 2020, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/survey-finds-shocking-lack-holocaust-knowledge-among-millennials-gen-z-n1240031. Accessed 18 February 2021.
The United States Department of Justice. “Hate Crime Statistics.” justice.gov, 2019, https://www.justice.gov/hatecrimes/hate-crime-statistics. Accessed 18 February 2021.