We Remember: International Holocaust Remembrance Day
27 January 2022, 09h00 EST (UTC-5)
Click image to see the video
The 27th of January 2022 is the seventy-seventh anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz and Birkenau death camps. In the years afterwards, the United Nations declared this day International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
CIJA, Canada’s Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, and the World Jewish Congress have chosen the theme “We Remember” for this year’s commemorations.
In contributing this video, I realise there is nothing I could possibly say that could be equal to the task of confronting the horrors of the Holocaust. I can only try my best to reflect on what We Remember should mean to our generation of Canadians.
First and foremost, I think it is call to honour the memory and the human dignity of the six million Jews who were murdered during the Shoah. And I think that part of honouring them is also remembering our individual and collective responsibilities to ensure that we never again allow such hideous crimes to walk unchallenged in our world.
Because for every person who actively herded human beings into cattle cars, there were thousands more who looked the other way and let it happen.
I am struck not only by the grotesque enormity of the Holocaust, but also by how many opportunities the world squandered to stop it before it began, or to come to the aid of its victims.
The world did not act when the fascists began fomenting antisemitism in their societies. It did not act when the fascists exported hatred through their early invasions of neighbouring states
Countries, including our own, turned away Jewish refugees and returned them to the slaughter, under a “none is too many” policy.
And even as plumes of smoke were rising over Auschwitz and Birkenau, the allies chose not to bomb the railway lines that were feeding thousands of people a day into the gas chambers.
Seventy-seven years is a long time. But it is not nearly long enough to change human nature. That it happened then is proof that it could happen now.
As children, we think that monsters hide under our beds where we can not see. As adults, we realise that the real monsters walk amongst us, but we avert our eyes and pretend we do not see.
If We Remember is to be meaningful, then it must mean: that we remember our duty to honour the dead; that we remember our responsibilities to see, to name, and to rage against antisemitism and all forms of hatred; and that we remember it is up to each of us to never again look the other way when evil stalks our fellow human beings.