Education & Advice, History, Humanity, Jews, Life matters, Politics, Reflection text

Seventy-five years ago on January 27

Seventy-five  years  ago,  the  100th  and  322nd  divisions  of  the  Soviet  Army’s “1st Ukrainian  Front”  reached  the  Nazi  concentration  and  extermination  camp  of  Auschwitz-Birkenau,  whose  very  name  symbolizes  the  barbarism  of  the  killing  centres and concentration camps.

Prisoners of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp after the liberation of the former Nazi Germany concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz I in Oswiecim, Poland, in January 1945

KL Auschwitz-Birkenau was a complex of over 40 concentration and extermination camps operated by the Third Reich near Oswiecim in occupied Poland during World War II, and a central site in the Nazis’ planned Holocaust, sometimes referred to as Shoa.

Auschwitz is in fact not one camp, but two: Auschwitz I, built in an abandoned Polish military base, and Auschwitz II, or Birkenau, a much bigger complex that went up later about two miles away to expedite the Nazis’ “Endlösung der Judenfrage” or “Final Solution to the Jewish Question”.
It is estimated that 1.3 million people were sent to Auschwitz, and 1.1 million died there including 960,000 Jews, 74,000 non-Jewish Poles, 21,000 Roma people, 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war, and up to 15,000 other Europeans.

Prisoners who were not gassed in chambers died of starvation, exhaustion, disease, individual executions, beatings or were killed during medical experiments.

What those soldiers came to see defied all forms of imagination. Emaciated bodies, unreal faces. Moving skeletons with flesh around it.

Child prisoners who were held in Auschwitz are pictured in January 1945 showing their tattooed numbers on their arms after the death camp’s liberation. More than 1.1 million people were murdered by the Nazis and their henchmen in Auschwitz

The last few years before they arrived at those gates of hell, they had already heard rumours about something different happening in the German labour camps, than providing work and food for the inmates. What the eyes of those liberators now came to see was something one could only imagine in a horror film.

What some had heard, now they could see with their own eyes. In the name of a racist and anti-Semitic ideology, people of all ages were deemed unworthy of living and were systematically murdered on a continental  scale.

Prisoners and nurses at the hospital for liberated prisoners after the liberation of KL Auschwitz I in Oswiecim, Poland, in 1945. As the Soviet troops searched the camp, they discovered 648 corpses, 600 prisoners in the slave labour camp and about 7,000 in the main camp

Every year around 27 January, the world is asked to remind that horror certain so-called human beings allowed to happen. All over Europe is paid tribute to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust. Around that commemoration day it is hoped for that people would stand still to think about what and how that horror could happen.

Mankind has to know such horror should never happen again. It is thus our duty to fight against speeches, wherever they are made, that seek to deny the existence of the Holocaust, that minimize its scale, or that attempt to absolve the murderers and their accomplices of their crimes.

Each decent human being should have the unwavering commitment to counter anti-Semitism, racism, and other forms of intolerance that may lead to group-targeted violence. All that have studied and all that live in what one would call a civilised world, should make every effort to improve public awareness, strengthen intellectual defences, in one word, ‘Educate’ – because people are not born anti-Semitic, people are not born racist, they become so.


Additional reading

  1. the Soup will not be eaten as hot as it is served
  2. 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz
  3. Interned and tortured at Breendonk before deportation to Auschwitz and later Buchenwald and Bergen-Belsen.
  4. Black page 70 years Release – commemoration Auschwitz
  5. The price of freedom
  6. Remembrance and freedom in the Netherlands – Dodenherdenking and Bevrijdingsdag


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