Established in 1940, the Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland is thought to have been responsible for the murders of up to 1.5 million people during the Holocaust. The camp, set up by the Nazis, became the largest of its kind. When Soviet troops liberated around 200,000 prisoners from Auschwitz on January 27, 1945, they found 836,525 items of women’s clothing, 348,820 items of men’s clothing, 43,525 pairs of shoes, 460 artificial limbs and seven tons of human hair shaved from Jewish prisoners before they were murdered.
As the world celebrated the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp as Holocaust Memorial Day, it is significant to remember that what happened seven decades back is still relevant today. There are some who strongly believe that learning about the Holocaust now won’t change anything. It won’t bring back the six million Jewish men, women and children who were murdered by the Nazis and it won’t turn back the clock to prevent the subsequent genocides that have happened since. It is time to leave the past in past.
The argument is tempting, but there are many good reasons to remember the Holocaust. We should remember it because the Holocaust altered our global landscape and because even today the consequences of it continue to reverberate throughout our society. One has to only to watch the news to know that the hatred that created the Holocaust did not end with the Nazis. Anti-Semitism still exists, and horrifyingly, is on the rise. Moreover, jihadis of radical Islam have given it a new dimension by stepping up their murderous campaign against people who do not follow their diktat, killing innocent civilians, including women and children, on a mass scale. While we shouldn’t be under any illusion that remembering the Holocaust is a “cure-all” remedy for anti-Semitism, it is a powerful reminder of where intolerance and prejudice can lead.