BY AMY MUNDAY
Today marks the observance of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. The Auschwitz death camp was liberated 65 years ago after 6 million Jews were killed by Nazis and their collaborators during World War II. The sadness and horror this tragedy emanates, brings other victims or observers of unrecognized genocides such as the Armenian genocide in Turkey in 1915 to question why similar situations aren’t treated in the same respect.
January 27, 1945 was the day Soviet Red Army troops freed the largest Nazi death camp, Auschwitz, in southern Poland. Mostly Jews, nearly 1.5 million of them, perished at the hellish camp. The Nuremburg Laws instituted the mass killings by stating that people of Jewish decent should be eliminated and in an organized, systematic manner.
According to the United Nations, this year’s observance theme is “the Legacy of Survival.” The theme emphasizes the universal lessons of the tragedy that must be passed on to succeeding generations. Other events such as exhibits chronicling the camp’s liberation by the Red Army will be on display at the museum that now runs the Auschwitz site.
“This day not only represents a memorial day for victims, not only the pangs of conscience of humankind in the face of the incomprehensible atrocity that took place, but also of the tragedy that derived from the procrastination in taking action,” Israeli President Shimon Peres told the German parliament.
The reasons for recognizing these horrors is to avoid the repetition of them. Ignoring horrific situations in history only increases the chances of future tragedies such as the Holocaust, but other similar catastrophic events come to light whether officially recognized or not. For example, The Armenian Genocide that is only recognized by 20 countries even though 1.5 millon Armenians perished.
Turkey still denies that the word genocide is appropriate for what happened to the Armenians, thus making Turkey’s allies deniers as well. The tragedy however, was still a systematic and organized manner of destructing the Armenian people, and also appears to be the first of its kind. The organization of the killings is what forces the tragedy to fall under the same category. People try to use false terms like ‘killings of Armenians by Turks’ or ‘Armenian massacre,’ instead of calling it ‘genocide.’
An official of Tony Blair’s “Race Equality Unit”, Neil Frater, agreed that while he understood that the Armenian Genocide was an “appalling tragedy”, it wanted to “avoid the risk of the message becoming too diluted if we try to include too much history.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke about the importance of remembering the Holocaust, which he says is a reminder that “there is evil in the world…pure, unadulterated evil.”