Today, January 27, 2020, is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On this day we commemorate the tragedy of the Holocaust that occurred during World War II. The Holocaust resulted in the deaths of 6 million Jews and 11 million others by the Nazi regime and its collaborators.
This date is special because it is the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the prison camp of Auschwitz concentration camp in German-occupied Poland.
In 2017 my husband John & I visited the camp outside of Dachau, Germany, as part of a World War II tour of Europe. It was sobering and now is part of the talk I give to groups about the war. I supplement photos with comments made to me by veterans who helped to liberate the camps.
I’m currently writing a book on their stories of liberating Dachau and other camps.
This photo of former prisoners at Buchenwald was taken by a vet, Calvin Schultz, who helped to liberate the camp. His story is in my book, They Did It for Honor: Stories of American WWII Veterans.
In fall 2019 I was thrilled to be part of the Violins of Hope project in Fort Wayne Indiana.
The Violins of Hope is a collection of musical instruments that were owned by Jewish musicians, most of whom died in the camps. The violins survived and have been restored and travel the world, educating people about their owners’ stories.
The Violins of Hope were on display at a local university and were heavily advertised over the 2 weeks they were on display. Much effort was made to include as much of the community as possible with dozens of events planned at schools and nursing homes.
On November 3, I was privileged to be asked to speak at the Fort Wayne History Center about the stories told to me by veterans who helped to liberate concentration camps. The crowd of approximately 135 people seemed fascinated. It was encouraging to know these people want to be educated about what really happened and refuse to believe those who try to say the Holocaust is a myth. The local newspaper featured the event.
At a Violins of Hope luncheon I met author Dr. James A. Grymes who wrote the book entitled Violins of Hope. I’ve read the book –the last story about a young boy who was part of a Resistance movement with require a tissue.
The state of Indiana has a special connection to the Holocaust. Eva Kor was a survivor of Auschwitz. As a child, she, along with her twin sister, was operated on by Dr. Mengele as part of his experiments with twins at the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Eva went on to be a world-renowned ambassador for hope, healing and humanity. As an adult, she lived in Terra Haute, Indiana, and sadly died on July 4, 2019.
She was the subject of a documentary –‘Eva: A-7063’ — produced by Indianapolis filmmaker Ted Green, Mike Brown, and WFYI, Indianapolis’ PBS station.
As part of a statewide effort backed by the Indiana Library Federation and the Indiana Association of School Principals, Jan. 27, 2020 is being celebrated statewide as Eva Education Day.”
Several libraries in my area are running the film about Eva. I plan to see the film. Having already learned much about Eva, I’m sure it will be moving and I encourage everyone to view it or similar films about the Holocaust.
Eva also established a museum near her home in Terre Haute to educate people about the Holocaust. She named it CANDLES– an acronym for “Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors”. I hope to visit the museum someday.
You can view the Auschwitz Memorial / Muzeum Auschwitz YouTube commemoration broadcast of the 75th Anniversary of Auschwitz Liberation. Click the link and look for the livestream entitled, “The 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz.”
We cannot allow our future generations to forget about this important part of our world’s history. As someone has so wisely said, ‘If we forget the past, we are doomed to repeat it.’ We cannot allow anything like the Holocaust to reoccur.