Today is the Holocaust Day of Remembrance in Germany. On this day, people in Germany remember the over six million Jews and many other people who were murdered under the rule of the Nazis.
This day was chosen because it was on 27 January 1945 that the survivors were rescued. 58 years ago today, Soviet troops liberated the concentration camp of Auschwitz. Around 1.5 million Jews and several thousand Sinti and Romany people were killed in Auschwitz by the Nazis. The SS had started building the concentration camp, situated near Krakow, in April 1940. It was the largest of their labour and extermination camps. The gas chambers and incinerators were in the main camp, Birkenau. There were 45 forced-
labour camps in the surrounding area. When Auschwitz was liberated, the soldiers were confronted with a horrifying sight: emaciated people who had survived the horror were crouching next to thousands of corpses; many of them were too weak to go to meet their liberators.
For almost five years, people were tortured, tormented and murdered in the concentration camp: above all Jews, but also Poles, Sinti and Romanies, Soviet prisoners of war
and prisoners of other nationalities.
In 1996, the then German president, Roman Herzog, declared 27 January as a national day of remembrance in Germany. He said that the day should be observed as a “thoughtful hour in the midst of everyday work”; every year on this day, the German Bundestag
holds a memorial ceremony. People remember the many millions of people who were persecuted, tortured and murdered under Nazi rule. Flags are put at half-
mast on public buildings as a sign of commemoration.
You can find information on Auschwitz, which is now a memorial site, at this address: www.auschwitz.org.pl