Why Holocaust Remembrance Day still matters - Joe Goldblatt
When the Russian army liberated and therefore saved the lives of the remaining 9000 prisoners at Auschwitz - Birkeneau concentration camp in Poland on 27 January 1945, little did they know what they would find.
Eighty-eight pounds of eyeglasses. Hundreds of prosthetic limbs. Twelve thousand pots and pans. Forty- four thousand pairs of shoes.
These items were the graphic evidence of the atrocities conducted there. Seventy eventy - six years since the liberation of
Auschwitz - Birkenau some may ask what more may we find from this tragic event
that will prevent further tragedies from unfolding in the future?
International Holocaust Remembrance Day was designated by the United National
General Assembly in 2005 to annually commemorate the anniversary of the
liberation of the largest concentration camps by Russian's Red Army. This event is
conducted around the world through lectures, education programmes and activities
involving both adults and children.
This week the Edinburgh Interfaith Association (EIFA) will share two pre - recorded
video programmes featuring the head of education from Auschwitz - Birkneau
Memorial and Museum and the director of the Shanghai, China Jewish Refugee
Museum in conversation with both Edinburgh and Rwandan school pupils. Rwanda
suffered one of the world’s worst genocides in 1994 resulting in the deaths of over
half a million Tutsis.
Inge Auerbacher, an German holocaust survivor who is based in New York city will
also share her testimony in a live programme on 25 January 2020 at 6pm. All
programmes may be seen on the EIFA facebook page
Professor Hugh Goddard, chair of EIFA stated that “As a Christian, this reminds us
of one of the darkest moments of the middle of the 20th century and also of the
alarming number of incidents since that time, in different parts of the world that
illustrate a similar philosophy of violence and destruction.”
Nasim Azad,a member of the Islamic faith and vice chair of EIFA stated that “This is
an opportunity for all together to pray for peace and hope for those who are being
tortured, oppressed or demonised simply because of who they are. We stand
together to show that no matter our differences, all human life is sacred and
everyone is entitled to live freely, the way God had intended.”
Finally, Umutesi Stewart, a member of EIFA and a native of Rwanda that
experienced one of the world's worst genocides in 1994 with over half a million
deaths declared that "This event reminds me of when I lost over 40 people in my
family. I believe that through International Holocaust Remembrance Day we must
learn the lessons of our dark past and understand that we are all equal with no one
superior to the other."
This week, EIFA will solemnly remember the atrocities of the past and through
education and public discussion provide a greater commitment to insuring that
"never again" will we allow evil to triumph over the goodness of humanity.
Professor Joe Goldblatt is Emeritus Professor of Planned Events at Queen Margaret
University and the Treasurer of the Edinburgh Interfaith Association. He is a
member of the Jewish community in Edinburgh.
Professor Joe Goldblatt, is treasurer of the Edinburgh Interfaith Association