Remembrance Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly as a way to never forget the Holocaust and to remember the genocide of Jews in Nazi concentration camps during World War II.
It is celebrated on January 27th because this is the day on which, in 1945, the troops of the Red Army entered Auschwitz for the first time. When the Russian troops entered Auschwitz concentration camp, they found about 7,000 prisoners in inhumane conditions waiting for them, and a huge pile of shoes, clothing and other objects belonging to all the people who were no longer there. They also found the crematoria and the remains of many, too many other human beings in mass graves hastily organized by the German SS, who fled before the arrival of the Red Army.
About a million people died only in Auschwitz: a mass extermination that the fleeing Nazis had tried to hide by burning documents and destroying crematory ovens and shacks.
Shoah is the term that indicates the extermination of Jews by Nazi Germany and its allies. In the Hebrew language the word means “devastating storm”.
Although many associate the term “Shoah” with that of “Holocaust”, the meanings of the two words are slightly different. The Holocaust refers to a form of sacrifice practiced in antiquity, especially in the Greek and Jewish religions, in which the victim was entirely burned. With the Shoah, on the other hand, it is defined a sacrifice that could (and should) be avoided.
Born to commemorate the Holocaust of the Jewish people, Remembrance Day quickly turned into a moment in which, all over the world, the victims caused by hatred, fanaticism, racism and prejudice are commemorated. A day in which everybody must remember what human cruelty brought to other human beings, in order to not forget, and to prevent the Shoah from happening again for other peoples and other ethnic groups.
“IF UNDERSTANDING IS IMPOSSIBLE, KNOWING IS NECESSARY, BECAUSE WHAT HAPPENED CAN RETURN, CONSCIOUSNESSES CAN BE SEDUCED AND DARKENED AGAIN: EVEN OURS”. (PRIMO LEVI)