A Day To Remember

On Saturday, January 27, 1945, the Russian army arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and liberated the occupants of the labor-death camp. Those prisoners able to walk were sent on a death march as the Nazis sought to escape the ensuing Russian army. Of its 1.3 million residents, 1.1 million died.

Seventy-Five years later the commemoration of that event will feature a major event in Israel at Yad Vashem, Israel’s memorial to the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust. “Dozens of heads of state from around the world will convene at Yad Vashem to mark the fifth World Holocaust Forum as part of the commemorations surrounding International Holocaust Remembrance Day.”

Gilad Cohen notes that the United Nations designated the date of January 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, but passing the measure was “far from a sure thing.”

He details the outcome of the effort to implement it. “Without the help of the Europeans there was no chance of passing the resolution.” The European Union hesitated to support it because of Arab countries opposed to it. “I felt a sense of fury washing over me. Turning to the European delegate and the German diplomat I said, ‘The worst tragedy in humankind occurred on your soil…its time the Jewish and Israeli narrative is given the expression in a special session.’

After securing support from Russia, Canada, the United States, and Australia, Cohen went back to the European delegates asking for their support. This time, the European Union delegate assented, “The European Union will join the initiative despite the objections of the Arab countries.” The effort succeeded, and “we had done something important for our people and for our state. For all the survivors, to perpetuate the memory of the six million, and to ensure that the world’s next generations would never forget.”

A fitting international honor that came about due to a sense of moral and personal responsibility.

(Source: The Times of Israel; Gilad Cohen)