Holocaust Remembrance Day For All Victims?


Can we have a Holocaust Remembrance Day for all victims? The United Nations chose January 27 as the date for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, in honor of the day the Soviet Army reached Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1945, even though the war would not end for months. I mourn deeply, for I have walked the grounds of Auschwitz-Birkenau on a cold, fall evening, and felt the presence of ghosts from many nations, of different beliefs, and of different ethnicities.  It’s a statement of fact, that the number of victims identified in the “Holocaust” remains a subset of the full Nazi Genocide. I  hope that we can light a candle of respect to all victims. Remembrance. Respect. Honor.

IMG_0145Official Definitions of Holocaust

Per the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM): “The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators.”

Per Yad Vashem in Israel: “The Holocaust is defined as the sum total of all anti-Jewish actions carried out by the Nazi regime between 1933 and 1945.”

Nazi Genocide: How Many Victims?

The number “six million Jews” is a subset of the full Nazi genocide. Three million Christian Poles aren’t included. Three million more gentiles of other countries aren’t included. Thousands of Soviet POWs. While all numbers are estimates, they are calculated based on known data. New discoveries in archive documents continue to push the estimates of total victims even higher, both Jewish and other.

Poland: Caught between Dual Genocides of Nazis and Stalin

WWII history as taught in the United States focuses almost exclusively on Adolf Hitler and Germany as “The” enemy in Europe.  For Poland, Hitler was but one of two lethal enemies who conquered and divided her lands. Stalin deported over one million Poles to work camps in Siberia, after evicting them, and destroying their homes. The Russians executed Polish army officers one by one by thousands. Poland’s full pain is only recognized once both tragedies are added together. Why don’t we hear about the millions murdered by Stalin’s genocide? The United States was allied with Jozef Stalin.

Remembrance. Respect. Honor.

What do I say to a survivor, or a descendant who says  “I lost twenty members of my family. They’re all gone.” How can I relate to a woman I met two days ago, who told me that at age ten she watched her mother shot dead in front of her by the Gestapo? Her Catholic parents were hiding ten Jews in their basement. But her grandmother taught her, as she cried for her mother, that if Jesus and the Virgin Mary were Jewish, aren’t the Jews one of us too?

I say I’ll remember, respect and honor their memory. It’s what we need to do for all victims.

Photos – Image of candle from Wikipedia; Photo of USHMM in Washington D.C. taken by author in August 2014.

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Tags: Holocaust, Polish History, World War II - Europe

8 Comments. Leave new

  • Thanks, Katrina! I posted again on 2 of my FB sites!

  • Nice article but the one million Poles deported, at least in 1940/4,1 is not correct according to today’s historians. That number is the original estimated one from the Polish Government in Exile in the 1943/44. See Jolluck, Snyder, even Gross, and many others. Antony Polonsky, chief historian of the Museum of Polish Jews in Warsaw will tell you it was up to HALF a million.

  • Even not all Jewish people are remembered… Here is one of the many Polish Jews who was a victim of the Soviets: http://www.sztetl.org.pl/pl/article/warszawa/17,pamiatki/43537,fotografia-z-pogrzebu-wiktora-soldingera-w-zbiorach-agaty-sagan/ Not to mention people like Moses Schorr, Baruch Steinberg etc

    • Katrina Shawver
      January 30, 2016 11:22 am

      Thanks for your comment. I’m going to follow through on those names as I’m not familiar with them.

  • Helena Britsch
    January 30, 2016 7:15 am

    I complained about this Holocaust Day to the British goverment when it started because so many good, decent German people still suffer from ignorant people who believe all Germans were murderers and torturers. I have seen suffering from this, especially when things like football matches are involved.

    I was told that it is to commemorate other holocausts like Rwanda, the Balkans also, but I see nothing of that in what you have written. It is all about the Jews.

    • Katrina Shawver
      January 30, 2016 11:21 am

      I agree with your point on good German people, for there were. I’m always distressed when some accuses “all Germans, all Poles, all (name your country). Thank you for your comment.


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