Rwanda has joined Israel to remember victims of the Holocaust, on 77th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau−Poland.
Every year Holocaust is marked on January 27 January, to remember the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, alongside the millions of other people killed under Nazi persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Bosnia and Darfur.
In Rwanda, this year, the Holocaust was commemorated at Kigali Genocide Memorial where the remains of over 250,000 people killed during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi are laid to rest.
The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution in November 2005 establishing the annual commemoration, and chose January 27th, the day that Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated by Soviet troops in 1945.
Due to the pandemic, many International Holocaust Remembrance day events were being held online this year again. A ceremony including a small number of people however, took place at the site of the former Auschwitz death camp, where World War II Nazi German forces killed 1.1 million people in Poland. The memorial site was closed earlier in the Covid-19 pandemic but reopened in June last year.
According to Israel, six million European Jews and millions of other people were killed by the Nazis and their collaborators during the Holocaust in several areas. Among them 1.5 million were children.
“My Mother Eva Frankel (prisoner number 404), 9 years old and her brother Ernest, 11 years old were among the jews who boarded the Kasztner train that night. Her parents and older brother were left behind. She and all the rest found themselves in Bergen Belsen,” Dr. Ron Adam, the Ambassador of Israel to Rwanda said.
“After paying Eichmann more money, 318 children from the Kasztner train left the camp after two months. Finally, in the end August 1944 my mother and her brother found themselves free in Interlaken, Switzerland. The Swiss President at that time allowed them, and other jews to enter safe heaven, among others was also my father and his dad and sister. They were waiting for their chance to go to the promised land,” Amb. Adam said.
According to Dr. Adam, by mid 1944, half a million jews were concentrated in the ghettos and the deportations to Auschwitz started. In July 1944, no jews were left in Hungary, except for Budapest where 450,000 jews were burnt to ash in crematoriums of the Auschwitz Birkenau.
This year’s Holocaust remembrance is themed “Memory, Dignity and Justice”. The theme aims at writing history and remembering victims and survivors that brings dignity and justice to those that perpetrators of the Holocaust intended to obliterate.
It also targets to safeguard the historical record, remembering the victims, challenging the distortion of history often expressed in contemporary antisemitism, are critical aspects of claiming justice after atrocity crimes.
“On behalf of the government of Rwanda, I express to the Holocaust survivors, their families and friends my deep solidarity and empathy in the memory of victims. The Rwanda government is by your side to remember this horrible event and pay respect to you in memory of the victims,” Dr. Jean-Damascène Bizimana, Minister of National Unity and Civic Engagement said.
“Holocaust memory is a historical necessity which the entire humanity must remember in order to recall its cruelty, to inform young generation about its gravity as well as the danger of the Holocaust denial which is the continuation of the Holocaust in the form.”
According to the United Nations, the Holocaust this year will involve commemorative and educational activities that will draw attention to the actions taken by Holocaust survivors in the immediate years following the devastation and brutality of the Holocaust, to reclaim their rights, their history, their cultural heritage and traditions, and their dignity.
The commemoration will also involve the role played by institutions and individuals in supporting survivors, the long-reaching impact of the Holocaust on survivors’ families, and the impact of the Holocaust on the shaping of human rights policy and interventions will be explored.
The United Nation says the theme encourages action to challenge hatred, strengthen solidarity and champion compassion.