Holocaust Memorial Day is observed on Jan. 27 every year to mark the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest of the Nazi concentration camps and extermination centers.
On this memorial day, United Nations urges people to honor the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and develop educational programs to help prevent future genocides.
This year, Holocaust Memorial Day will be celebrated under the theme “Home and Belonging.” It calls people to “respond with humanity to the victims of atrocity crimes, to counter hate speech, antisemitism, Holocaust distortion and denial, and prejudice -to do all we can to prevent genocide.”
Here are some quotes from holocaust survivors that will help you understand the horror and trauma they underwent (Courtesy: Holocaust & Humanity Center):
- “Through the steam, I saw a sign: ‘Auschwitz.’ I didn’t know what it was, but a minute later, I found out.” – Henry Meyer
- “They said separate: children, men, women and older people. Me and my sister were separated with the young ones. I had my little sister in my arms, and one of the SS came over and picked up my little sister and gave her to my stepmother. He pushed me to the other side.” – Bella Benozio Ouziel
- “The smell was awful — things like that, you do not want to talk about it. Because the pain and memory of suffering comes back to you. You cannot deal with it.” – Eva Gryka Kohan
- “They brought us into Auschwitz. I could see the chimneys burning, smell the smoke. I did not think about it. They gave us tattoos: 33076. I did not have a name anymore; just a number.” – Sara Polonski Zuchowicki,
- “I was a little girl. I had done nothing to nobody, and I had to go there.” – Wellesina McCrary,
- “She was beautiful, my little sister. You cannot imagine how beautiful she was. They mustn’t have looked at her. If they had, they would never have killed her. They couldn’t have.” – Charlotte Delbo
- “One of our friends we knew from the ghetto, Danka Joskowicz — she ran to the barbed wires. I yelled to her, ‘Don’t go to the barbed wires! You will get electrocuted.’ She said, ‘What should I have to live for?” – Rozalia Nowak Berke
- “The SS guards pushed people with their [rifles] from both sides, and the crowd surged forward. As I searched for my father with my eyes and tried to catch up with him, I felt the firm grip of my mother’s hand on my arm. I knew she and I had to stay together — that going after my father would only separate me from my mother too.” – Anna Brunn Ornstein