70 Years

70 years.

70 years may seem like a life time to us, but in the grand scheme of this thing that we call time, it is merely a blink of an eye.

70 years ago today, Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated by allied forces, expelling its prisoners from more cruelty and pain than anyone should experience in a lifetime. Auschwitz. Situated in Southwestern Poland, Auschwitz was one of the largest death camps created by the Nazi forces. Its purpose? To assist in ensuring that the Final Solution to extract all the Jews from Europe became a reality.

Today, we call all the events that encompassed the Final Solution, the Holocaust.

On January 27, 1945, the allied troops entering Auschwitz-Birkenau for the first time were probably more apt to call it Hell.

The liberation of Auschwitz did not mark the end of the genocide of Jews and other perceived sub-humans of Europe. Camps continued to be liberated throughout the spring of 1945. Bergen-Belsen was liberated in April, a mere few weeks after Anne Frank perished there from a typhus epidemic that had swept through the camp. As Auschwitz was being liberated, tens of thousands of prisoners had already been forced to leave the camp, taken on death marches–an attempt by the Nazis to evade the Allied forces that they knew were closing in. Death marches. Because most of the ill-nourished and sickly prisoners would die from the strain of constant walking without food or water to sustain them.

The end of the Holocaust did not, for that matter, mark the end of genocide. It is a great misfortune that genocide has continued to happen since then. In Cambodia. In Rwanda. Just to name a few. The cold reality is that genocides will continue to happen unless we as a human race continue to band together to stop the madness of hate. Efforts have been made, are being made, but it’s not enough. Not yet.

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day. January 27th. I don’t know how many people are aware of this, but they should be. Not just today, January 27, 2015, which happens to be the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Although today is particularly symbolic for that reason, Holocaust Remembrance Day is honored every January 27th, on every anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

For the memory of those who perished during the Third Reich’s hold over Europe. For the memory of all those who have ever perished as a result of the sheer power that hate can have over people.

For a more accepting future, one that won’t allow such crimes against humanity to happen.

What we today call the Holocaust was a highly devised plan. It took years to fully implement. The construction of gas chambers and their adjoining crematoriums didn’t happen overnight. Yet they were constructed; it did happen and it could happen again.

Awareness. We must be aware. We must be aware on Holocaust Remembrance day; we must be aware everyday.

So please, take a moment today to consider how lucky many of us are to live in societies that don’t repress us. At the same time, understand that there are still so many people living today who don’t have those same freedoms. Take a moment to recognize that the freedom that many of us are so fortunate to have could be snatched away from us at any moment.

It has happened before and if we aren’t careful, if we aren’t aware, there is a very high possibility that it will happen again.

Image taken from The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website

We are the shoes, we are the last witnesses.

We are shoes from Grandchildren and Grandfathers,

From Prague, Paris, and Amsterdam,

And because we are only made of fabric and leather

And not of blood and flesh, each one of us avoided the Hellfire                                                                                     Moses Schulsetin, Yiddish Poet


Last summer while in D.C., I went to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum for the second time. I wrote about it on my D.C. blog, and I thought it only appropriate to provide a link to it here on this post:

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: A Reflection

My time at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum was without a doubt the most powerful experience I had while in D.C.

It is a day that will forever remain ingrained in my memory.

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18 Replies to “70 Years”

  1. Thank you Britta so much for posting this! It is so important that we not forget the Holocaust of 70 years ago nor the ones happening today in other countries…. A terrible part of history that unfortunately repeats itself still today…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m so glad you found meaning in this post, Lia. It had been my plan to write this post come yesterday, but I really had no idea what would happen until I actually started getting the words out. I haven’t been this proud of a post for a while and I’m so glad others have connected with it too.

      It just felt right to do this yesterday.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Indeed your words flowed from the ‘page’… It’s wonderful how sometimes you find a blissful moment of writing when your fingers can’t type fast enough to handle the influx of ideas coming forth!
        Happy writing!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I just couldn’t pass the day without writing and sharing. I was so aware all day and I knew many others didn’t even know it was Holocaust Remembrance Day. Never forget.

      p.s. Sorry for the delayed reply. Somehow your comment ended up in my spam folder and I just saw it today.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. He makes reference to the drowned and the saved in Survival in Auschwitz. You should read it. It’s a work of art.

        Like

  2. Hey, Britta! I’ve been to the Holocaust Museum before. But, that was when I was very, very young. (I was about 6 or 7 at the time, maybe a little older.) I was so short that I couldn’t see the displays. My parents have a much better memory of the Holocaust Museum, and my dad–seeing as he’s a HS history teacher–is very knowledgable about the events of WWII. But, what I do remember was the children’s version. You could hear and see various things: the little boy’s mother cooking in the kitchen, a tattered tapestry, a rock that had been thrown through a window. Shoes. A box car. Without that children’s museum, I wouldn’t recall anything of that specific museum. I’m very glad that my parents took me, and for my dad who was patient enough to explain to me what was going on.

    You should also consider reading Gerda Weissmann Klein’s memoir All But My Life. I read this in high school and still remember some of the scenes that she describes. She, too, is a powerful writer.

    There’s also a really cool YouTube video about a 109 Holocaust surviver who played piano at one of the camps. Her wisdom and her love for life is deeply inspiring. I was moved to tears at one point, just because she had remained so positive over the years. She has since passed away, but her advice lives on. Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8oxO3M6rAPw

    Like

    1. Wow, how fortunate you were to experience the children’s exhibit from the eyes of a child and that your Dad was able to explain events to you in a way that you could understand. I know exactly the exhibit you are talking about (I’ve been through on each of my visits). It’s so well done and a perfect way to introduce children to such a complex and brutal subject.

      Thank you the book recommendation. I will look into it when I’m not bogged down with readings for school. As for the link you provided, it looks really interesting and I do want to get around to watching it at some point. Perhaps sometime this weekend when I’m not so busy. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on It's a Britta Bottle! and commented:

    Thailand feels like college in the sense that I feel like I’m in a bubble here and the outside world just doesn’t exist. The only reason I have any inkling of what’s going on outside of this country is because I recently subscribed to theSkimm. Well, that, and the occasional news story that pops up on my feed on Facebook.

    So, it goes without saying that I completely forgot that yesterday was Holocaust Remembrance Day–something I am usually aware of given that Holocaust history has always been something I’ve been interested in and passionate about.

    I may be a day late, but I still want to reblog this post from January 27, 2015…because whether we want to hear it or not, genocide is still happening–and it will continue to happen if we don’t talk about it, if we don’t educate ourselves about the past horrors we have implemented in the name of hatred.

    Like

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