Monday, Jan. 27, is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Leaders near and far will commemorate survivors and victims while addressing a resurgence of anti-Semitism.
About 6 million Jewish people were persecuted and murdered by the Nazis, who also targeted and killed millions of others during the Holocaust.
What started with a rise in anti-Semitism across Europe grew into one of the world’s largest acts of genocide.
“Many would say, Jewish identity shouldn’t be defined by the Holocaust, but it indelibly changed and had an indelible impact on the Jewish community and, frankly, civilization,” said David Waren, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford.
The federation joined other Connecticut organizations this past weekend for remembrance events.
Heads of state from around the world will gather this week in Israel for the fifth World Holocaust Forum. They’ll focus on a rise in anti-Semitic groups, rhetoric, violence and attacks, which have included shootings at synagogues in Pittsburgh and California.
“The Jewish community is feeling, at a level that I’ve never seen before, very vulnerable and very insecure, and so it underscores as well the importance of focusing on these issues around this commemoration,” said Waren.
He adds that providing more education on the Holocaust, and fortifying laws designed to protect people from hate crimes, has become critical.
“At a time when Holocaust denial, Holocaust revisionism is growing, and at a time, frankly, when just historical memory dims, it’s important that we do bear witness, and even as less survivors are available to bear witness, that we collectively do so.”
This year uniquely marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz -- a Nazi concentration camp and extermination center where about 1.1 million perished.
Waren said the annual observance is an act of remembrance, but it’s also a time to educate people on what led to the Holocaust, on the roles people played, and what lessons can be learned.