International Holocaust Remembrance Day: January 27, 2023
International Holocaust Remembrance Day takes place each year on January 27. This date was chosen because it is the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau labor and extermination camp. Soviet ground forces captured and opened the massive facility in 1945 as they advanced toward Germany and the capture of Berlin in May 1945. Expert historians estimate that 1.1 million people perished at Auschwitz-Birkenau, and about one million of them were Jews. It is credibly estimated that some five million additional Jews were killed during the Nazi campaign of annihilation that ran from 1933 to 1945 (but especially from June 1941 to May 1945).
This is a day to remember the “Holocaust.” What does that mean precisely? One of its greatest historians, Robert S. Wistrich, described the term succinctly in his indispensable yet brief volume, “Hitler and the Holocaust”:
The Holocaust was an unprecedented crime against humanity that aimed at the annihilation of the entire Jewish population of Europe, down to the last man, woman, and child. It was the planned, deliberate policy decision of a powerful state, the Nazi Reich, which mobilized all of its resources to destroy an entire people. The Jews were not condemned to die for their religious beliefs or for their political opinions. Nor were they an economic or military threat to the Nazi state. They were killed not for what they had done but for the simple fact of their existence.
Thus, the “Holocaust” is not a term that should be used to commemorate other mass killings either during World War II or at other times and places.
The “Holocaust” was that event described by Wistrich which ran from 1933 to 1945. Unfortunately, various actors have been attempting to shoe-horn other mass killings, targeted killings of people groups, and wars as “holocausts.” We should not do this or acquiesce silently when others do it.
An example of this error was committed by President Biden. There are many beneficial features of Mr. Biden’s statement marking the day. For example, it opens with a remark mourning the six million Jews who were killed but then adds that he and Jill Biden “grieve the Roma and Sinti, Slavs, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ individuals, and political dissidents who were also killed.” With all due respect, a Holocaust remembrance statement is not a time for intersectional logrolling and virtue signaling.
The borderless, tireless, maniacal pursuit of Jews to kill is unique in history. When the Nazis invaded North Africa, they brought SS killing teams to hunt down Jews across that continent and must have been so disappointed that they were unable to reach Jerusalem. The Channel Islands, Corfu, Norway – even the Caucuses. No place was safe. No technology would be spared in assisting with the Jews’ identification and eradication.
This genocide was not realpolitik or territorial, it was spiritual. It displayed that same demonic obsession that Haman nurtured in his heart when he swore to annihilate the Jews as recounted in the Old Testament (Esther 3:5-6). Hitler sought a metaphysical purging of the Jews. For the Earth had to be rid of God’s Chosen people (Deuteronomy 7:6-11), the recipients of the Torah, God’s law and gift to mankind. As we noted last year, “Satan hates God, and he hates the Jews for their relationship with Him.”
So, it is fitting that International Holocaust Remembrance Day should be remembered for what it represents: an “unprecedented crime against humanity” which intended the extermination of all Jews, and only Jews, wherever they might be found.
For the battles yet to come, whether Jew or Christian, let us not forget to seek the Lord’s protection:
My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber. (Psalm 120: 2-3)
Dr. Chris Gacek is Senior Fellow for Regulatory Affairs at Family Research Council.