Jan. 27 (UPI) — Millions around the world on Wednesday honored the many Jewish victims who were systematically killed during World War II.
Numerous world leaders joined survivors, members of the Jewish community and supporters in recognizing International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The day marks the anniversary when Auschwitz-Birkenau — the largest Nazi concentration and death camp — was liberated by the Soviet Red Army during World War II. More than a million Jews died at the camp.
Survivor Charlotte Knobloch, 88, warned of conspiracy theories that sought to compare coronavirus restrictions with Nazi actions during the Holocaust.
“Anyone who compares coronavirus measures with the National Socialist policies towards Jews is trivializing the anti-Semitic state terror and the Shoah,” she said. “And that is unacceptable.”
In Austria and Slovakia, hundreds of Holocaust survivors recognized the 76th anniversary by getting vaccinated for the coronavirus. In Vienna alone, about 400 people ages 85 and older, many of them Holocaust survivors, took part in vaccinations organized by the Austrian Ministry of Health.
Yair Lapid, a member of the Israeli Knesset and leader of the Yesh Atid Party used the day to talk about how his grandfather was killed at the Mauthausen concentration camp and how the world can never forget the inaction by others who allowed the atrocities.
“The world needs to never forget its silence,” Lapid said in an op-ed in the Jerusalem Post. “The fact that the world saw and remained silent. They knew. There is no way not to know that millions of people are being murdered. You can smell the death in the air, it hangs in the air.”
President Joe Biden released a statement recognizing the day.
“We must never forget the truth of what happened across Europe or brush aside the horrors inflicted on our fellow humans because of the doctrines of hatred and division,” he said.
“I first learned about the horrors of the Holocaust listening to my father at the dinner table. The passion he felt that we should have done more to prevent the Nazi campaign of systematic mass murder has stayed with me my entire life,” the president said.
“Today we commemorate the victims of the Holocaust and all those persecuted and deported by the Nazi regime,” the pope said. “Remembering is an expression of humanity. Remembering is a sign of civilization. Remembering is a condition for a better future of peace and fraternity.”
Pope Francis also said such acknowledgments are important today because, “Remembering also means being careful because these things could happen again, beginning with ideological proposals intended to save a people and ending by destroying a people and humanity.”