Ok guys, today is a day for some serious business. It’s not happy. Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Obviously the holocaust was a very tragic event, as is every genocide. Unlike the abortion debate, you never hear anyone arguing for the positives of the holocaust. It was a terrible, an insight into the darkest avenues of human capability. Today is very official, as every member state of the UN “has an obligation to honor the victims of the Nazi era and to develop educational programs to help prevent future genocides” (ushmm, 2013).
Why January 27? It is the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in 1945. Auschwitz was the largest of the Nazi “death camps”. It is the location at which over 1.1 million people were murdered. It is the home of the famous sign “Arbeit Macht Frei”, which translates as “Work makes one free”.
Unspeakable things happened at this camp, but I feel that in order to grieve over the situation properly, such things must be spoken about.
People were gathered onto the cattle cars of trains, and sent to Auschwitz. Once they disembarked, the prisoners were split into two groups. Women, children, the elderly and anyone who looked weak or injured were sent to an immediate death in the infamous gas chambers. Up for 2000 people were stripped and stuffed into a bare room with what appeared to be shower heads on the ceiling. The door was slammed shut behind them before they could realize what was going to happen – perhaps the most tragic part being to could have taken as long as 20 minutes before everyone was dead.
Those who were not sent directly to the gas chambers were sent to work as a prisoner of the camp. In a humiliating process, they were stripped of all the clothes and personal belongings, tattooed with a number and had all their hair shaven completely off before being thrown into cruel, hard work. The combination of intense labor and scarce food caused the slow death of many.
But few would dare misbehave, for the thought of being sent to block 11, the torture block. It included small, poorly ventilated dark cells, in which many slowly suffocated and died in a lonely and terrifying environment. The standing cell forced four people into a phone booth sized cell where the only option was to stand all night before being sent out for a 12 hour shift: this occurred many nights in a row until the person died of exhaustion. And there was the starvation cell which is exactly as horrible as it sounds.
On January 27, 1945, the Russians reached Auschwitz: The Nazis had already abandoned the camp, but the Russians found 7650 prisoners that were left behind at the camp. They were set free.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum recommends observing International Holocaust Remembrance Day by lighting a candle to reflect.
❤ Darcie rae
U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
History of Auschwitz
Torture methods of Block 11
United Nations Official