Today, January 27th, is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the 79th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camp at Auschwitz. And we must remember.

We must remember the horrors that happened when good people did not believe what was happening.

We must remember the hatred and lust for power which resulted in intimidation, intolerance, corruption, horrifying violence against Jews, Roma (gypsies), homosexuals, political activists, the disabled (physically and mentally).

Exact numbers of those who died in concentration camps in the Holocaust are unknown, but it is estimated that six million Jews, 15,000 homosexuals, unknown political prisoners, the disabled, and about 1.5 million out of an estimated 2 million Gypsies (Roma) were murdered in the Gypsy Holocaust – Porajmos).

Records of one concentration camp (Auschwitz) show unbelievable facts: 1.1 million died … 960,000 Jews (865,000 of whom were gassed on arrival), 74,000 non-Jewish Poles, 21,000 Roma, 15,000 prisoners of war, and up to 15,000 other Europeans.

Many try to forget the reality of what happened in Europe to these people, including clergy who also died while doing their best to support and protect the vulnerable.

Many denied the reality of the Holocaust then.

Many deny the reality of the Holocaust now.

But we must remember these words of Martin Niemöller
“First they came for the Socialists,
and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists,
and I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak for me.”

What gave rise to the Holocaust then – anger, hatred, fear –
is happening now and growing.

If Niemöller’s words are not taken seriously
… if history is not remembered
… if action is not taken
… if people do not speak up
there will be no one left to speak.

Democracy will no longer be the reality.

We must remember.

Remember that
“It didn’t start with gas chambers.
It started with politicians

dividing the people with ‘us vs them’.
It started with intolerance and hate speech,

and when people stopped caring, became desensitized
and turned a blind eye.”
<Auschwitz Memorial>

We must remember and become educated about the atrocities of the past. We must educate today’s children so they know the truth. We must do our part in speaking up and speaking out.

We must remember.

Not to remember will have dire consequences.

These sites might be a beginning towards knowing the truth.

© June Maffin