By Valerie Sobel
January 27th is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Why does the world commemorate the Holocaust on this date given that neither Israel nor the Jewish diaspora, the only preeminent stakeholders with the never-dried eyes over the eternally open wound do so?
A free date on the UN calendar?
Not exactly. As with all things commemorated, the chosen date (January 27th) has something to do with those doing the commemorating and a bit less with those who are being commemorated.
13 Death camps, 356 starvation ghettos and countless forced labour camps in Poland, USSR, the Baltic States, Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Hungary were run by the Nazis between 1939 and 1945 to annihilate anyone with 1/16 Jewish bloodline or more. All in the spirit of “Final Solution” first laid out ever-so-tidily in the enlightened head of German composer, Richard Wagner.
Just as proposed in the two manifestos by monster Wagner, his ideological successor and countryman with the hedious moustache built the ovens that turned 6,000,000 beating hearts into ash and smoke. Annihilation ovens smoldered human flesh in a matter of seconds on January 27th, 26th, 25th and everyday of the year, until the day The Allies defeated the Germans.
On January 27, 1945, the Red Army entered the largest death camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau, and liberated approximately 7,000 remaining skeletons lucky enough not to have been murdered along with the previous 1.3 Million inhabitants of the camp. The date commemorates the actions of the Soviet liberators, not the starving unarmed Jews who compliantly entered the ovens like lamb to slaughter to the sophisticated sounds of, none other than, Herr Wagner, himself.
Let it be also noted with plenty of neon-flashing asterisks, the liberation date could’ve been something entirely different had The Allies carpet-bombed the rail tracks to Auschwitz, Treblinka, Majdanek, Belzec, Dachau, Buchenwald, Bergen-Belsen, Chelmno, Dora-Mittelbau, Flossenburg, Gross-Rosen, Janowska, Kaiserwald, Mauthausen, Natzweiler-Struthof, Neuengamme, Oranienburg, Plaszow, Ravensbruck, Sachsenhausen, Sobibor, Stutthof, Terezin, and Westerbork. A military move that would’ve saved millions of lives much before January 27th, 1945, and as early as 1943 when Franklin Roosevelt first received irrefutable documentation of human flesh smoke polluting European airways.
In fact, it isn’t by coincidence the liberation of Auschwitz coincides precisely with the defeat of the Germans. No strategic attempts to liberate Jews from the Nazi death machine were made separately from the German defeat. Victory over the Germans de facto necessitated liberation of the camps.
…Could’ve, should’ve, would’ve: no doubt tragically academic and unequivocally pointless now. Israel and the diaspora never lose sight of the actions of righteous gentiles nor the virtuous liberators without whom Jewish survival wouldn’t have been possible. One just has to walk through Yad Vashem and its burial gardens to understand that fully. Blessed be the memory of each liberator and soldier, in any uniform, who fought against the Nazi machine.
But here’s the rub: Soviets liberate Auschwitz in 1945. Ditto for the other camps by The Allies. Yet, no official recognition of Holocaust Remembrance takes place anywhere in the world until …..wait….wait for it……2005! Let that sink: the greatest genocide known to man and no official commemoration anywhere in the gentile world until just a bit over 10 years ago..!
The “ever-benevolent” and “Israel-loving” United Nations General Assembly finally squeezes out a resolution (with 60 ‘for” and 7 “against”) on 11/01/2005 to mark the 60th anniversary of liberation of the gruesomest of all death camps.
Lo and behold, about the same time, 60 years after the horror and under considerable political pressure, the German government finally acquiesces in the decision for a Holocaust memorial in Berlin. A memorial of arbitrary 2700 cold cement blocks on a piece of real estate that no German contractor wanted because of its umbilical proximity to Hitler’s bunker where the savage took his life. Hard to believe, but Germany’s only officially coughed-up monument to the murdered 6 Million is situated right next to the eternally sealed carcass of the monster who murdered them!
…Bone-chilling. Preposterous. German. But let’s not digress.
To the Soviet liberators, to any other liberators, nor to the U.N., it never occurred to proclaim Holocaust Remembrance Day until five years into the 21st Century. To have it coincide with Israel’s commemoration of the horror (on Yom Ha’Shoah) would’ve certainly been much too much to ask for and much too Israel-affirming.
Since just after the formation of modern Israel in 1948, Holocaust (Shoah) Remembrance is observed annually in all corners of Jewish diaspora. And not in January. Yom Ha’Shoah is held in April or early May, depending on the Jewish calendar and observance of Shabbat.
In Israel, Yom Ha’Shoah is a two minute standstill of pin-dropping silence: no traffic, no human movement, no words, no moving cars, nothing but hypnotic silence amidst a singular sound of an ear-piercing siren heard throughout the country. And not to commemorate compliancy to slaughter, but rather a revolt against it. The date for remembrance was chosen to mark the courage and heroism of the Warsaw Ghetto Jews in the face of imminent death.
Between April 19th & May 16th of 1943, Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was an event of Jewish resistance in the occupied Poland to derail the Nazis’ final effort to transport the remaining ghetto population to the death factories of Majdanek and Treblinka. The remaining ghetto Jews began to build bunkers and smuggle weapons and explosives into the ghetto. Marek Edelman, the only surviving commander of The Uprising, explained that the motivation for fighting was “to pick the time and place of our deaths”.
Outnumbered and out-gunned by the Germans, the men and women of The Uprising eventually succumbed to the same fate as the rest of the Treblinka prisoners. But not before arranging an everlasting musical date for 150 Fritz’s & Heinz’s with their deity, Richard Wagner.
Throughout countless pogroms, rapes, synagogue burnings, inquisitions, forced conversions and incessant murders of the last ten centuries in Europe, Jews never organized to pick up arms in their own defense. And much to their own detriment. The Jewish Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, however, managed to hold off the Nazis 16 days longer than the entire country of Poland and 26 days longer than Czechoslovakia. According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the uprising was “one of the most significant occurrences in the history of the Jewish people”.
This remarkable Ghetto Uprising is a catalyst for Holocaust remembrance and the inspiration for the construct of the second mightiest military machine in the world, the Israeli Defense Forces. The latter gives teeth to the real meaning behind the phrase “Never Again”, connoting that never again will the Jews find themselves waiting to be liberated by anyone on a cold day in January, or any other day.
The Jewish world commemorates the six million on a different date and in a way uniquely different than the rest of the planet. But AMEN to January 27th and any date the souls of the Jewish innocents are remembered. Even if it takes 60 years to clear the collective amnesia and force a few monuments.