Holocaust Memorial Day
75th anniversary of Auschwitz liberation

27th January this year, marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. A date that is now known as Holocaust Memorial Day.

Auschwitz

Holocaust Memorial Day 2020

Auschwitz short film

Auschwitz was the first of the Nazi Concentration Camps, or more accurately, Death Camps, to be liberated in 1945. Until then, the vast majority of the people outside German occupied Europe, did not know the full extent of the activities of the Nazi Regime.

Auschwitz was part of a network of over 40 such camps that had been set up with the express intention of exterminating people that the Nazis regarded as ‘undesirable.’

There were many categories of ‘undesirables’ as far as the Fascists were concerned. There were homosexuals, communists, dwarfs, mentally ill people, people who were brain damaged, people with special support needs, people with genetic anomalies, political opponents, black people, Prisoners of war, Slavic people, Romany people and most notably, Jewish people.

Who they killed

90 year old returns

Or to put it another way, most of us.

Over the course of it’s 5 years of existence, Auschwitz witnessed the gassing and burning of 1 million human beings. The figures for the total numbers of people murdered by the Nazis vary. Anything up to 11 million civilians died at the hands of possibly the most brutal regime in history.

6 million of them were Jewish.

Numbers of victims

The Nazis weren’t the first to practice genocide (the deliberate and systematic destruction of a group of people because of their ethnicity, nationality, religion, or race).

The English massacred 150 Jews at Bernard’s Tower in York in 1190 in one many such atrocities, in an attempt to eliminate the Jewish people from England, that went on for centauries. When Shakespeare wrote his character Shylock in the Merchant of Venice, it was not legally possible for him to have met a Jew, because they no longer legally existed in England.

Massacre in York

Most nations have something dark of this nature hiding in their collective historical closet.

The Khmer Rouge in Cambodia are believed to have killed over 3 million of their own people.

Khmer Rouge

The Bosnian Genocide, which was the “ethnic cleansing” of Bosnians and Croats, happened in April of 1992. 100,000 ethnic Muslims were murdered.

Ethnic Cleansing

There are no reliable figures for the number of people killed in the North American genocide carried out against the indigenous people of that continent.

North America

So The Holocaust, as the extermination of the Jews in Nazi Germany is known, is sadly, not unique. However, ever since the establishment of Holocaust Memorial Day, 27th January, the date of the liberation of Auschwitz, The Holocaust, has become a focus for remembering, not just the atrocities of the Nazis across Europe, particularly against Jewish people, but that part of our shared history that touches on this particularly dark side of the human story.

And why do we need to remember? Why should we take the time to focus, if only just once a year, on the worst of things that humanity has done in the name of ...?

Because these things are not done by monsters. These things are not do to innocent people by evil people. They are done to ordinary people by ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.

If we are to stop these things happening again, we must remember, and make our children remember, and make them tell their children so they remember, and they must tell their children.

We cannot rely on human nature to ensure that this doesn’t happen again, because somewhere in it’s darkest recesses, it is human nature that has allowed it to happen again, and again, and again throughout human history.

Oh My Nottz is a HotHouse Theatre production. Co. No. 6505843 Charity No. 1154523. Tel 07963020259 email guy@hothousetheatre.com website www.hothousetheatre.com
The views expressed in Oh My Nottz are not necessarily those held by HotHouse Theatre.
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