27 January 2021
Events to mark the commemoration of the Holocaust have been limited and moved online thanks to the global pandemic.
Today is the 76th anniversary of Auschwitz's liberation and the Auschwitz museum is holding a virtual event to commemorate the 200,000 children who were murdered at the Nazi death camp in Poland. Only 700 youngsters were still alive when the Red Army liberated the camp on 27 January, 1945. The museum at Auschwitz will be streaming its commemoration on social media channels including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and putting it on its own website later.
Museum Director, Piotr Cwyinski commented, “200,000 children were murdered in Auschwitz. Completely innocent, good, curious about life, loving their closest ones, trusting children. The adult world - after all, so often unjust and cruel - has never demonstrated so much of its heartlessness, its evil. This cannot be justified by any ideology, reckoning or politics. This year we want to dedicate the anniversary of liberation to the youngest victims of the camp.”
Pope Francis has called for people to remember the victims of the Nazi genocide while Israel's President, Reuven Rivlin, will join a virtual event in a country where many elderly survivors of the Holocaust have already been inoculated against Covid-19. The children of the camps are now the most at risk category in the global pandemic. Hundreds of survivors in Austria and Slovakia were also poised to get their first vaccines to mark the anniversary.
The isolation and death toll caused by the pandemic caused Dr Moshe Kantor, the President of the European Jewish Congress to comment that, "Throughout their lives, they have shown mighty strength of spirit, but in the current crisis, many have sadly died alone and in pain. Therefore, I call on European leaders to ensure that Holocaust survivors have access as soon as possible to a safe and effective vaccination and with the highest priority."
He also warned against the rise in extremism, "The pandemic has created the social conditions where antisemitism and extremism thrive."
Meanwhile, in the UK, the Prince of Wales led the Royal family’s tribute to victims and survivors. In a video on the Clarence House Twitter page he urged people to remember Holocaust Memorial Day today and asked people to ensure survivors' stories are remembered forever as the number of people able to bear first-hand witness to the horrors of the genocide, decreases steadily each year.
Prince Charles is patron of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, and remarked, “This is our time when we can, each in our own way, be the light that ensures the darkness can never return. On Holocaust Memorial Day, we remember all those who died during the Holocaust and other genocides.”
A traditional remembrance ceremony will be hosted online at 7pm tonight, and following that, landmarks across Britain such as Wembley Stadium, Cardiff Castle and the Tyne Bridge, will be bathed in purple light at 8pm. The general public have been encouraged to show their support and solidarity by lighting a candle in their window following the online service.
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