Buenos Aires Times

opinion and analysis INTERNATIONAL HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY

History lessons for every January 27

“Every January 27 must serve to internalise the idea that differences enrich us. That seeing and listening to others makes us better. That a society is not composed of thousands repeating a single voice but thousands of different voices agreeing to live together and respect each other’s identity.”

Saturday 26 January, 2019
January 27 is known as the International Day of Annual Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust.
January 27 is known as the International Day of Annual Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. Foto:NN

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Since 2005, tomorrow, January 27, has been known as the International Day of Annual Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. This date was established by the United Nations General Assembly to urge the member states to remember this historic chapter in order to prevent future genocides.

The Holocaust, as it is internationally called, (Shoah in Hebrew) has no comparison. It refers to the systematic planning and execution of a plan to exterminate an entire group from the face of the earth by the German Nazi regime and its allies during World War II and managed to destroy a third of the Jewish people. Specifically, six million people, including 1.5 million children.

Such was the level of damage that today, 74 years after the end of the war, demographically the Jews of 2019 have only been able to return to the same number as before the conflict broke out.

The date chosen for commemoration was not whimsical. On January 27, 1945, the Red Army “liberated” the branch that hell enabled on earth called Auschwitz.

What the soldiers saw was indisputable. What until then had been silenced could not be kept secret anymore. The world saw that man could be man’s own worst enemy, capable of a cruelty without limits known since his existence in this world.

But it would seem that the same human being who caused so much damage could not coexist with that fact.

Adolf Hitler, hours before his suicide, predicted that hatred of the Jews would take centuries to re-establish itself. He was wrong. And big time.

Years later, despite the long and profuse documentation, produced by the efficient Nazi bureaucrats themselves, voices began to emerge that denied the existence of the Holocaust, or relativised it.

Then began to appear those who spoke of the existence of the Holocaust as a fictional story, as if to gain the compassion of the world and obtain the creation of the State of Israel.

And more recently, those who with inordinate malice compare the existence of this state with the Nazi regime.

Or the trivialisation of the Holocaust, qualifying as ‘Nazi’ anyone who does not agree with this argument.

All this, without having even mentioned that there are states that promote as a national policy the denial of the Shoah and the destruction of the State of Israel. In other words, to deny history, to repeat it and have the background to deny it in the future.

Nor can we ignore the presence of anti-Semitic acts in Europe and the United States. Without covering the eyes, there is also a local presence on the electoral campaign trail and in the media.

This date, January 27, only has meaning if we understand that evil prospered because the good did nothing. If we do not take it as a day to take flowers to the graves in an act of recollection, we can analyze what we can do to value each life. This day has no value if, when one speaks with suffering, his interlocutor does not try to empathise.

We do not take advantage of the commemoration if we enter into a Manichean interpretation of reality, because if we devalue the opinion of others, sooner or later we will devalue their right to exist. To continue sharing the spaceship called Earth we cannot adopt a vision of us or them.

Every January 27 must serve to internalise the idea that differences enrich us. That seeing and listening to others makes us better. That a society is not composed of thousands repeating a single voice but thousands of different voices agreeing to live together and respect each other’s identity.

There still resounds in my ears Cicero’s phrase, one that a Latin teacher made us memorise on the first day of high school: Historia vero testis tempore, lux veritatis, vita memoriae, magistra vitae, nuntia vetustatis. That is, history is the witness of time, the light of truth, the life of memory, the teacher of life and the messenger of antiquity.

If we are not willing to learn from it, or just want to install a single interpretation of it, if history does not teach us to value life, we will only have the opposite: pain, death and desolation.

Op-Ed

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