“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”
–George Santayana, Spanish-American Philosopher
This past Wednesday the 27th was the International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. People across the United States and Europe recognize the importance of remembering and gather to commemorate the lives lost and events that occurred in the horrific event of the Holocaust.
A Brief History
Auschwitz was the largest, most gruesome Nazi death camp. It was comprised of 40 concentration camps where over 1 million Jewish and Nazi enemies died by gas chamber, malnutrition, disease, or were forced into slave labor. After five years of operation, the Soviet Army stumbled upon the camp. At the death camp, they found thousands of emaciated prisoners, including men, women, and children, abandoned by the Nazis running the camp. The Soviet Army was able to save 7,500 people but sadly, they couldn’t save them all. Thousands of healthier prisoners from the camp were forced on Death Marches to other camps still under German control. After the horrors of the happenings of the camp became known, previous prisoners and the Polish government renovated the site and turned it into a memorial museum.
How We Remember
George Santayana, a Spanish-American philosopher from the early 20th century, said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This rings true as each year, people from around the world remember the horrors of the past, united. This year will be a bit different form of commemoration due to the Coronavirus pandemic, but, nevertheless, people will find ways to gather. Many organizations will hold services featuring works from Holocaust survivors. For example, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is holding a livestream broadcasting a memorial service and speeches given by Holocaust survivors. A nine hour documentary called Shoah created by the French director Claude Lanzmann will finally be released after 11 years on Holocaust Remebrance Day. A worldwide screening will be held to showcase the tales of surviving victims.