The Holocaust is a dark and tragic chapter in world history that cannot be ignored or denied. It is a well-documented and widely researched event, with eyewitness accounts, photographic evidence, and written records serving as powerful reminders of the atrocities committed against Jewish people and other minority groups during World War II.
Despite this wealth of information, however, there are still people who choose to deny the reality of the Holocaust and claim that it never happened. This type of Holocaust denial is not only dangerous and offensive, but it also undermines the historical record and the memory of the millions of lives lost.
In Canada, the study of World War II and the Holocaust is a central part of the history curriculum in many schools. This serves to educate future generations about the dangers of hate and prejudice and the importance of standing up for what is right. Yet, even in Canada, antisemitism continues to persist, a devastating fact that demonstrates the ongoing need for education and action.
January 27th – The History – All you need to know
- On January 27, 1945, the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and extermination camp was liberated. The camp was one of the largest, with a death toll of over one million men, women, and children.
- In 2005, this date was designated by the United Nations General Assembly as the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust.
- Each year on January 27th, the global community commemorate the victims of the Holocaust. It is also a reminder that we, as a global community, must continually combat antisemitism and systemic oppression and violence, to prevent such atrocities from ever reoccurring.
“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
– International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)
Source: International Holocaust Rememberance Alliance
What is Canada doing to address antisemitism?
So according to Canada.ca official website, here is what you can find about Canada’s pledges on Holocaust remembrance and combatting antisemitism:
“We pledge to combat antisemitism, Holocaust denial and distortion, hate crimes and all other forms of racism and to protect at-risk communities.
We pledge to promote awareness about the Holocaust and antisemitism in Canada.
We pledge to continue supporting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) and to promoting the IHRA working definition of antisemitism”
Now here is a question: Has Canada been successful at achieving this? Or is this just lip service?
Antisemitism in Canada
Antisemitism is not in the past. According to the B’nai Birth Report, in 2020 there were….
- 2610 Incidents reported (the 3rd consecutive year exceeding 2000)
- 18.3% Increase in recorded incidents compared to 2019
- >7 Incidents per day
- >44% of violent incidents were COVID-19 related
-Source: 2020 B’nai Brith Canada Audit of Antisemitic Incidents-
THUS, This is a present day problem, not a historic one. Antisemitic crimes and residual intergenerational trauma still continue to this day. Though January 27th is designated as the day of commemorations, the fact these crimes still occur highlights the necessity for education and accountability, on this day and every other.
Why we remember
The Holocaust is a tragic reminder of the harm and destruction that follows when antisemitic attitudes are acted on, and when good people do nothing to stop it.
Designating an annual day is just one step in reminding us of our collective responsibility to act on racism. We have an individual and collective duty to educate society on genocide. To understand how the Holocaust happened.
Because it did happen.
The Holocaust and the events leading to it were state-sponsored harm, violence and death. It was a masterclass in industrialized killing, mass murders. We need to understand so we remain vigilant of patterns of antisemitism and racism towards any community and take action against it.
Doing so reminds us that sometimes the call is coming from inside the house, so we have to be vigilant of our own policies and leaders.
Remember that old story of how when you have a frog and you throw it in boiling water it’ll jump out, but when you put a frog in water and slowly increase the temperature it will die slowly without understanding why? We remind you of this because it’s important here to remember that the Holocaust didn’t happen at the snap of Hilters fingers, he turned the heat up slowly and purposefully.
Antisemitic views have unfairly existed for centuries but Hilter and the Nazis fed into this to divide communities. Their plan started way before 1939, with a meticulously planned policy that slowly stripped away the rights of Jewish Germans while pairing it with antisemitic rhetoric about how Germans deserved better. Instead of the government just doing better for the people in their country, they blamed many of the issues on the Jewish community.
The truth of the matter is, this strategy isn’t exclusive to the Nazis. It’s easy to look around the world, through both history and now in the present day, and see this strategy in different stages of action.
When we remember what happened during the Holocaust, we have to remind ourselves that this can happen again, that in many ways it is happening again and that we have a responsibility to have learnt from the Holocaust and do better for both the Jewish and other marginalized communities.
Imagine the lives that would have been spared if the first human rights oppressing legislation Hilter passed was shot down by the German people? It begs the question, what issues are we as a civilization in a pot of water that is slowly increasing temperature? How do we put a stop to injustice immediately, rather than risk the death and harm of marginalized communities?
Last but not Least
The politicization of the Holocaust is a worrying trend that raises serious questions about our ability to confront and learn from the past. If we can’t acknowledge the reality of one of the worst human rights violations in history, then what hope do the histories of other oppressed and persecuted communities have of being recognized and remembered?
It is crucial that we work to combat Holocaust denial and antisemitism in all its forms. This means speaking out against hate and prejudice, promoting education and understanding, and working to build a more inclusive and just society. The memory of the Holocaust and its victims must be preserved and honored, so that future generations never forget the terrible consequences of unchecked hatred and bigotry.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day is a day of solemn reflection and commemoration of the six million Jews and others who were murdered by the Nazi regime during World War II. This day serves as a reminder of the ongoing need to fight against antisemitism and all forms of hate and bigotry. In Canada, this day is marked by ceremonies, events, and educational initiatives that aim to raise awareness about the Holocaust and its lessons for future generations.
As we reflect on this day, it’s important to acknowledge that antisemitism still exists in the world today, and it’s up to each of us to do our part to combat it. This includes speaking out against hate speech and discrimination, educating ourselves and others about the history of antisemitism and the Holocaust, and standing in solidarity with Jewish communities and other marginalized groups.
However, I also recognize that using the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism above to justify anti-Palestinian beliefs is problematic. This definition has been used to silence legitimate criticism of Israeli government policies and actions, which can contribute to a culture of repression and censorship.
For this reason, it’s important to acknowledge that the fight against antisemitism must be done in solidarity with other marginalized groups, including Palestinians. This means recognizing the complex political, historical, and cultural factors that contribute to antisemitism and working together to create a more just and equitable world for all.
In conclusion, International Holocaust Remembrance Day is an important opportunity for us to reflect on the past, learn from it, and work towards creating a better future. By standing together, we can work to eradicate antisemitism and all forms of hate and bigotry, and create a world where everyone is free to live with dignity, respect, and equality.
Let us strive for a world where kindness, unity, and respect reign, and hate has no place to exist.