Holocaust anniversary reminds us, ‘Never again’

Monday, which has been declared International Holocaust Remembrance Day by the United Nations, will mark the 75th anniversary of the Soviet Red Army’s liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in German-occupied Poland.

On the Jewish Virtual Library website, it is stated that various estimates suggest 1.6 million people were murdered in Auschwitz alone. Of the 405,000 registered prisoners at the time of liberation, 65,000 survived; of the 16,000 Soviet POWs, only 96 survived. In all, the Holocaust claimed 6 million Jewish lives in a plan the Germans dubbed the “Final Solution.”

A series of articles from The Associated Press have been issued this week, leading into Monday’s anniversary. One article shares reflections of the death camp from some of its remaining survivors.

Mordechai Ciechanower, a 95-year-old Auschwitz survivor living in Ramat Gan, Israel, says he survived his nearly two years in the camp thanks to his roofing skills and the generous help of others.

“I died hundreds of times, but kept getting up,” he said. “I never thought I would get out of there, let alone live this long.”

Eva Umlauf, who was only 2 at the time of the liberation, was one of the youngest prisoners to be freed. She said she doesn’t remember anything from her time at Auschwitz — but she has been returned there twice since, and will also be returning for the anniversary on Monday with her three adult sons.

“You can feel the emptiness there,” she said. “You feel the dead. You feel the burned earth. You feel that something atrocious has happened there.”

Survivor Maurice Gluck said despite the early life trauma, he considers himself among the lucky ones since he was raised with love.

“Do not forget but try to forgive,” he said of his lessons from the Holocaust. “In this world there are good people and bad people. Try to find the good ones.”

With the upcoming anniversary on Monday, we should all take a moment out of our busy lives to reflect on these stories, as well as the absolute hell these victims had to endure. The Holocaust, above possibly all other events in human history, is one that must never be forgotten — just as survivor Elie Wiesel once said, “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”