The Days of Remembrance which is observed every year in April and May, is a week-long commemoration of the Holocaust. This year, it will be observed from May 5 to May 12. The Days of Remembrance was established as the country’s annual commemoration of the Holocaust by the United States Congress. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum is responsible for leading the country in commemorating Days of Remembrance and also for encouraging these commemorations. The Holocaust was the state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million Jews by the Nazi rulers, allies, and collaborators.
History of Days of Remembrance
The Holocaust refers to the organized and state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million Jews by the Nazi regime during World War II. Even before coming to power in Germany in 1933, the Nazis were open about their anti-Semitism. The Nazi party’s anti-Semitic view has religious roots which were further stoked by the political changes. The Nazis added another dimension of racial anti-Semitism by portraying Jews as a race and not as a religious group. Eventually, the Nazi party’s racial anti-Semitism led to violence and annihilation. This was accelerated after Adolf Hitler rose to power. The harassment of Jews began with a boycott of Jewish businesses, dismissal from the civil service, and their treatment as subjects instead of German citizens.
This assault kept building, and over the years, Jews were denied proper school education and university degrees; their entry to theaters was banned, and they were forced to travel in separate trains. Their business establishments were also vandalized, following which many Jewish people were arrested and sent to concentration camps. Around six million Jews perished in these camps.
These concentration camps and ghettos were densely packed and brimmed with rampant diseases, malnutrition, scarcity, and hunger. Many people were also forced to engage in hard labor. Along with the Jews, anybody not in the good books of the Nazis, including the Roma people, social democrats, disabled people, trade unionists, and homosexuals, were also thrown into the camps.
The Days of Remembrance is held from the Sunday before ‘Yom HaShoah’ which means Holocaust Remembrance Day in Hebrew, through the next Sunday.
Days of Remembrance timeline
Hitler comes to power as the head of the coalition government on January 30.
Well-planned anti-Jewish violence erupts throughout the Reich on November 9 to 10, in which many Jewish businesses are destroyed.
World War II erupts on September 1 and lasts till September 2, 1945.
The British and American troops enter concentration camps and liberate the inmates in April and May.
Days of Remembrance FAQs
Why is it important to keep the memories of the Holocaust alive?
Holocaust denial, anti-Semitism, and racism are again raising their ugly heads around the globe. It is critical to keep memories of the Holocaust preserved as even fewer survivors can share their stories with us today.
Who was the oldest Holocaust survivor?
Yisrael Kristal, who died on August 11, 2017, at the age of 113 years, was a Polish-Israeli man. In 2014, he was internationally recognized as the oldest living Holocaust survivor. He was a confectioner and had experienced World War I as an early teen and World War II as an adult. After making it through the Holocaust, he emigrated to Israel.
How do I describe the Holocaust to a kid?
It’s important to be honest and listen to their queries. Discuss the context that led to the Holocaust and how blind hatred and prejudice led to the events. Above all, emphasize tolerance and make them understand the virtue of doing the right thing, even if it means going against the norm.
How to Observe Days of Remembrance
This tragic chapter of history is displayed at Auschwitz and other nearby memorials and museums. A visit to these areas will provide a better understanding of the atrocities committed against the Jewish people and other communities. It is important to behave with appropriate solemnity and respect in such places.
Read “The Diary of a Young Girl”
Read “The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank to come face to face with the horrors that many Jewish people had to live with. This famous book describes the struggles of Frank and her family as they hid from the Nazis in a small attic in Amsterdam for around two years.
Participate in activities
Participate in some of the activities organized by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. A visit to the museum in Washington, or involvement in other activities, debates, film screenings, and book discussions is also recommended.
5 Disturbing Facts About The Holocaust
From 1939 onwards, the Nazi government mandated all Jewish people to wear a yellow Star of David on their clothing.
The Nazis constructed more than 44,000 incarceration sites, which included detention centers, forced-labor camps, concentration camps, and killing centers.
Two-thirds of Jews killed
The Nazi regime killed almost two-thirds of the Jewish population in Europe during World War II.
The term ‘holocaust’ is derived from the Greek word ‘holokauston’ which means ‘fire sacrifice.’
Jews were arrested after Kristallnacht
Around 33,000 German-Jewish men were sent to camps after the Nazis attacked them, pillaged synagogues, and vandalized business premises.
Why Days of Remembrance is Important
It wasn’t that long ago
Many of us believe that the Holocaust took place in the distant past, but it hasn’t even been a century yet. Many of the people who were present at the time are still alive and haunted by what happened to them and their families. In Europe, the Holocaust continues to poke people’s consciences.
We need to know our history
It’s imperative to learn about these historical events, to understand what led to the Holocaust, and know what created the conditions for the Nazi party to flourish so that we can prevent a similar situation in the future. We must understand history to learn from it.
To fight discrimination
Learning about these events can help us fight hatred, intolerance, and discrimination which unfortunately exist even today. It also provides an opportunity to foster critical thinking, awareness, and growth.
Days of Remembrance dates