Today, people around the world are remembering the genocide of European Jews. More than six million people died under the Nazi occupation and the leadership of Adolf Hitler. From 1941 to 1945, Jewish people were systematically targeted, imprisoned and killed in extermination camps, which is not to be confused with concentration camps. The former featured gas chambers constructed for mass murder while the latter simply relocated those deemed socially undesirable. Other groups were also oppressed and murdered under this regime to include persons who were mentally and physically disabled.
Based largely on a belief in eugenics and race- based social policies, it is the deadliest genocide in human history. And while there are those of us who would believe that it could never happen again, Primo Levi tells us how it did and how it can. So don’t just remember what happened but think about how it happened. This day should not be a passing thought but an invitation to ask questions about our present reality.
Here are few resources to get you think through this day:
Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State, “Germany and the Camp System”
John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Inga Clendinnen, Reading the Holocaust
Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl
Gideon Greif, We Wept without Tears, Testimonies of the Jewish Sonderkommando from Auschwitz
Ota Kraus & Erich Kulka, The Death Factory: Document on Auschwitz
Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz
Robert Rozett, and Shmuel Spector, eds., Encyclopedia of the Holocaust
Various Contributors, Readings for Holocaust Memorial Day
Elie Wiesel’s Night