Schindler’s List, The Boy in Striped Pyjamas’, The Book Thief, Sophie’s Choice, The Diary of a Young Girl. The aforecited names might seem familiar to us but the common thread to all of these mentions seems rather out of our parlance. The Holocaust has always been a stressed issue, which it needs to be, especially by the literary world and the celluloid. Countering that, current trends around the world especially in India depict that we have failed to realize its significance, and never actually seemed interested in the issue, our illiteracy about the holocaust and the popular success of Adolf Hitler and his autobiographical Mein Kampf in the country proves to be substantial in this regard.
On November 1, 2005, the UN General Assembly embraced goals 60/7 and assigned January 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The date denotes the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and is intended to honor the casualties of Nazism. The day bolsters the improvement of instructive projects to recollect the Holocaust and to forestall further annihilations. It is also an affirmation that rejects all kinds of Holocausts Denials and encourages the member states to preserve the sites that the Nazis used for The Final Solution.
There is a two-fold motivation behind The International Holocaust Remembrance Day, primarily to fill in as an official date for commemoration of victims of The Nazi regime and to advance Holocaust Education throughout the world.
The Holocaust or the Shoah, was the precise, state-sponsored, bureaucratic genocide in Nazi Germany during the Second World War, where the Nazis and their associates murdered some six million Jews, with the belief that the Germans were ‘Racially Superior’ whereas the Jews were ‘Ethnically Inferior’, and posed a threat to the purported German race. By the end of the War, the Nazis killed every two out of the three Jews as a part of their ‘Final Solution’. Further, the killings didn’t stop with the Jews, other ethnicities like the Gypsies, the Blacks, the Poles and Soviet Civilians along with the Communists, Socialists, differently-abled and Homosexuals came under the purview of the Nazi ethnic cleansing as well.
There have been many survivors of the Nazi torments and many other who have been affected by the Holocaust, the day gives a kind of relief to all those who are attached to it and empathize with the victims.
Every year since 2010, the United Nations has designated specific themes for the Holocaust commemorations which focus on topics such as collective and shared experiences, lessons, universal human rights and roles and responsibilities interplaying.
Similarly, this year The Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) would be observed with a special theme as well, this time it has been set on ‘Torn from Home’, to mark the importance of a place like home, specially during a genocide and how the home feels different from pre and post Holocaust life.
While, all the member states observe this day, many even conduct national commemoration ceremonies on days connected to the Holocaust. The day also holds significance in preserving the harmony and ensuring the prevention of further genocides through observation and Holocaust Education. Especially, in a state like India, where we often find numerous instances of mass-violence, killings and lynching of the minorities by the fringes, be it the 1984 anti-Sikh Pogroms, the Babri Masjid- Ram Mandir Riots or the 2002 anti-Muslim Gujarat Pogroms, we need to understand and learn from the Holocaust to prevent such genocides and maintain the dignity of all humans and the entire humanity.
Mohd Faizan Salik studies English Literature at Jamia Millia Islamia