Holocaust Remembrance 2024 as scope of death, horror and threat still hard to comprehend today
International Holocaust Remembrance Day arrives on Saturday amid heightened urgency and fear following the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attacks in which as many as 1,200 Israeli civilians were killed and captured.
“October 7 was the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust,” Michael Makovsky, president and CEO of the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) in Washington, D.C., told Fox News Digital on Friday.
The atrocities reminded the world that antisemitic rage spread by Adolf Hitler’s far-left National Socialist German Workers Party led to the slaughter of 6 million Jews before and during World War II – the Holocaust.
“There is a sense that the world didn’t do enough to help that’s seared into the memory of every Jew,” added Makovsky.
“There’s always been this lingering fear since then that the world will not do enough to help Jews again,” he said.
The United Nations introduced Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2005, and it’s been held each year since to “mobilize civil society for Holocaust remembrance and education, in order to help to prevent future acts of genocide.”
On Friday, Jan. 26, a memorial ceremony took place in the UN General Assembly Hall at United Nations headquarters. Survivors of the Holocaust plus many others, including World War II veterans, joined with a variety of speakers to honor and remember victims of the Holocaust.
At the start, those gathered observed a moment of silence to recall the victims. The proceedings were streamed live at a time of “great pain” given the Oct. 7 terror attacks.
The Holocaust was orchestrated by the National Socialist German Workers Party, but found collaborators in nations across Europe, even those at war with Germany.
The Holocaust was the “organized, state-sponsored persecution and machine-like murder of approximately 6 million European Jews and at least 5 million prisoners of war,” reports the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Other targeted victims, the museum notes, included Romany (gypsies), Slavs, Jehovah’s Witnesses and those physically and mentally disabled.
Jews suffered the brunt of the horror, following centuries of antisemitism. The 6 million people killed amounted to 1/3 of all the Jews in the world at the time, according to the United Nations.
“Jewry has never fully recovered,” Makovsky said to Fox News Digital.
The global population of Jews today is about 15.7 million, with nearly 90% of them living in Israel and the United States, according to several sources.
Human ‘burnt offering’
“Holocaust” comes from the Greek word for “burnt offering.”
The phrase is a gruesome reminder that the inhumanity of the Holocaust is far deeper than the unfathomable death toll.
Jews were dehumanized, first with words, then systematically herded into cattle cars, shipped to death camps and slaughtered like livestock on an industrial scale, furthering the revulsion and the need to remember today.
“A member of the race can only be one who is of German blood … Consequently, no Jew can be a member of the race.”
The platform soon escalated into policy and then death on an unprecedented scale.
The National Socialist German Workers Party outlined the inhumanity as its “Final Solution of the Jewish Question” in 1942.
The “burnt offering” of the Holocaust were human bodies, the victims of National Socialist atrocities incinerated in ovens at death camps built around Europe to process and kill undesirable members of society — mostly Jews.
Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel chronicled the living horror of humans being packed into livestock trains and shipped to death camps in his 1960 memoir, “Night.”
“Do you see that chimney over there? See it? Do you see those flames?” Weisel wrote.
“Over there, that’s where you’re going to be taken. That’s your grave, over there.”
Jews were slaughtered in 23 main concentration camps across Europe, but hundreds of other smaller and satellite camps were in operation at any one time.
American and Allied troops were horrified by the prisoners as they came across one camp after another during the final months of World War II in 1945.
“From the depths of the mirror, a corpse gazed back at me,” Wiesel wrote of an incident soon after the liberation of Buchenwald.
“The look in his eyes, as they stared into mine, has never left me.”
On Friday, Melissa Fleming, under-secretary-general for global communications, said at the U.N. — citing the words of Holocaust survivor Rabbi Ataue Schneider in regard to the Hamas terror attacks of Oct. 7 — “At this time, learning and reflection become even more crucial. Learning and reflection form a critical antidote to hatred and division.”
He further stressed honoring the “humanity of the victims of the Holocaust. We must never forget the 6 million Jewish children, women and men who were annihilated … We must remember their lives and the culture that had existed for centuries, which the Holocaust ruptured irrevocably … But the Nazis did not destroy the extraordinary courage of victims and survivors of the Holocaust, and this we must also never forget.”
Said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the observance as well, “Today we pause to mourn the 6 million Jewish children, woman and men systemically murdered by their Nazis and their collaborators … and so many others persecuted and killed during the Holocaust.”
He added, “We honor their memories, we stand with their survivors, their families and their descendants. We pledge never to forget, nor let others forget, the truth of what happened.”
Originally published in Fox News.