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We must never forget what happened in concentration campsPosted Friday, February 3, 2012, at 8:39 AM
"To forget the dead is like killing them a second time," Elie Wiesel, Auschwitz survivor and author of "Night."
Many days throughout the year are set aside for remembrance and celebration, but I was unaware until a few days ago that Jan. 27 was International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
It was on that date in 1945 that Russian soldiers went into Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp and freed prisoners.
This year's theme for Remembrance Day is "Children and the Holocaust." Keeping with that theme, design students from around the world designed posters expressing their views on the subject.
The exhibition of posters opened at the UN building in New York on Jan. 26.
Following that showing, posters and stories of children during the Holocaust will travel to children's museums throughout the United States.
One and one-half million Jewish children were victims and tens of thousands of other children were also murdered during the Holocaust.
The Moscow poet Yuri Ilinsky was a Red Army lieutenant in 1945 and was one of the solders who went into Auschwitz with the Soviet Army.
He said he had experienced many terrible things in three years of fighting but nothing compared to Auschwitz.
He recalled seeing a stack of emaciated corpses, dead children among them, under a thin layer of snow.
Ilinsky said there were children who were emaciated, in rags, ill and hungry, including 2 and 3-year old girls and boys, gathered behind barbed wire.
Most of the 200 children who were found alive were twins on whom Dr. Josef Mengele performed his experiments.
One of those twins was Eva Moses Kor who now lives in Terre Haute. Several years ago, Eva and her twin sister Miriam Moses Zeiger (now deceased) began the task of finding and reuniting twins of Auschwitz.
From that project, C.A.N.D.L.E.S. was formed, which is the acronym for "Children of Auschwitz Nazi Lab Experiments Survivors" and also the C.A.N.D.L.E.S. Museum in Terre Haute that tells the story of the Holocaust, Auschwitz and the Mengele twins.
In the book Children of Flames, Lucette Lagnado said that for years children of Mengele's laboratory had kept silent, but like candles in the night they are now "shedding light over a period of history still shrouded in strange and terrifying mystery."
As years go by and Holocaust survivors grow older, the number who lived through the years of torture, hunger, experimentation and humiliation are dwindling.
However, today the burning zeal to keep the memory alive is as resolute with survivors as was the Nazi's determination to eradicate the entire Jewish population in Europe.
Survivor Martin Shlanger, Auschwitz # 9556, was an acquaintance of mine in Michigan, and these are the views he shared with me:
"We are survivors of the Holocaust whose brothers, sisters, parents, children, and friends were murdered by the Nazis. We experienced oppression, humiliation, and terror, and were eyewitness to mass annihilations, starvation, beatings, tortures, and torments. We suffer from physical and psychological ailments. How can anyone expect us to forget the Holocaust?"
Speaking of Remembrance Day, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that 70 years ago the Jewish people were helpless ... "But the difference between 1942 and 2012 is not the absence of enemies, that same desire to destroy the Jewish people and the state that has arisen, this desire exists and has not changed. The difference is our ability to defend ourselves and to do so with determination ..."
I'm not sure who records special days on the yearly calendars, but I would like to suggest that Jan. 27 be added as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
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