Warsaw, 28 January 2023 (TDI): The world is observing Holocaust Remembrance Day on 27 January. The theme this year of the United Nations (UN) Holocaust Remembrance Day, is “home and belonging”.
These are two concepts that were systematically ripped away from Jewish citizens when in 1933, the Nazi Party took control of Germany.
Policies of the Nazi Party
Hitler in 1933 began to implement the party’s core racist and nationalist ideology into practice. According to his point of view, He started identifying who could claim Germany as home and, really belonged in the country.
Then enacted through legislation the Nazis defined the Jews identity and excluded them from society and launched misinformation and hate speech campaigns.
These campaigns vilified and dehumanized Jews and sanctioned acts of terror that destroyed people’s places of worship, livelihood, and homes.
Systematic campaigns took place in territories controlled by Germans. That also meant reuniting German-speaking people.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres, in his message for International Day, notes that the Holocaust was the result of thousands of years of antisemitic hate. That was aided by the decision of so many to do nothing to stop the Nazis.
“It was the deafening silence – both at home and abroad – that emboldened them,” he said. Nazis continued their efforts towards hate speech and disinformation campaigns.
Similarly, contempt for human rights and the rule of law, the glorification of violence and tales of racial supremacy, and disdain for democracy and diversity were part of Nazi ideology.
“In the face of growing economic discontent and political instability, escalating white supremacist terrorism, and surging hate and religious bigotry – we must be more outspoken than ever,” added the UN Chief, drawing a parallel between the Holocaust and the present day.
UN Outreach Programme
The UN Outreach Programme on the Holocaust scheduled a series of events in January and February at UN Headquarters in New York.
Based on the “home and belonging” theme, including a ceremony to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, on 27 January.
One of the exhibitions is currently on display and would continue until 23 February 2023 at the UN.
The central point of the exhibition is displaying the experiences of the Jewish refugees who found themselves scattered across Europe, in dire need of help.
The exhibition displayed displaced persons and their camps. It also included a display of documents and photographs from the archives of the United Nations and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.
Similarly, it explained the role of the UN Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA), which was set up to resettle those displaced by the war and the Holocaust.
Moreover, information, photographs of refugees, and artifacts were displayed. That included dolls made by stateless Jewish children who were living in a displacement camp in Florence, Italy, after the war.
Misinformation, Stereotypes, and Antisemitism
The central agenda of the exhibition remained displacements that occurred due to conflict and persecution. Also, misinformation and hate speech that spread rapidly around the world.
There is another illustration included in the exhibition that portrayed stereotyping, misinformation, and conspiracy theories. These tactics were used by the Nazis to vilify Jews, Roma, genders, and migrants.
Book of Names
In the exhibition, a “Book of Names” that contains the names of victims is also on display. It alphabetically comprises the name of each of the approximately 4.8 million Holocaust victims.
It is documented and confirmed by Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center. The book shows the date of birth, hometown, and place of birth of each victim.
The names are extracted from the ‘Pages of Testimony’. That was created by Yad Vashem to record the brief life stories of Jews killed in the Holocaust.
Visiting the UN
The exhibition would remain open to the public until February and the visiting hours are Monday-Friday, 9 am – 5 pm.
Guterres recalled that German Jews were forced to adopt an additional name: “Israel” for men, and “Sarah” for women, in the 1930s.
Prisoners in Auschwitz were dehumanized more when they arrived at the concentration camp. Their names were erased and replaced with a number burnt on their forearms.
Some one million victims remained unidentified; we would have to find new ways to carry the remembrance forward said the UN Chief.