Across the world, nations have joined together for Holocaust Memorial Day (January 27th). An estimated 11 million men, women and children (including 6.5m Jews) were killed in the genocide that has come to be termed the Holocaust. Hitler’s genocide, referred to as Shoah in Hebrew (literally “The Catastrophe”) wiped out two-thirds of Europe’s Jewish population – including an estimated 1.5m children.
Holocaust Memorial Day takes place on 27 January as that was the day in 1945 that the Soviet forces liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau, nearly eight months before the war officially ended. Regrettably, by the time the Soviets arrived, most of the camp’s prisoners had already been sent out on a death march, with only 7,000 prisoners discovered still alive in the abandoned camp.
In the five years it was open, roughly 1.1m people were killed at Auschwitz. Whilst 90 percent of them were Jewish, the other victims were generally of Romany and Polish extraction alongside Soviet prisoners of war. One in six of the Jews killed during the war died at Auschwitz, in what the Nazis termed “the final solution to the Jewish question”.
Since 1996, January 27 has officially been remembered in Germany as the Anniversary for the Victims of National Socialism, with Italy and Poland later adopting similar memorial days. In 2005, the UN voted to officially commemorate the Holocaust.
Since 2005, Holocaust Memorial Day has been supported by the HMD Trust – a government funded charity. You can find local events on their website