Led by Local Holocaust Survivors, the Museum Community Mourns and Remembers Victims of the Shoah on International Holocaust Remembrance Day
Sixty-nine years ago today—January 27, 1945—Soviet troops liberated the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau where more than one million Jews alone had been murdered.
In 2005, 60 years after the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the United Nations approved General Assembly Resolution 60-7, establishing January 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day and urging every UN member nation to honor the memory of Holocaust victims and encouraging the development of programs about Holocaust history to prevent further acts of genocide.
More than 11 million people perished in the Holocaust—of which six million were Jews; victims included the Roma, Soviet civilians and prisoners of war, ethnic Poles, people with disabilities, homosexuals and political and religious opponents of the Nazis.
On Sunday, Dallas area Holocaust survivors, Museum members and guests marked the international day of remembrance through reflections and prayer during a special program at the Museum.
“As we gather today, as an interfaith community, we honor, remember and mourn the lives lost in the Holocaust,” said Mary Pat Higgins, Museum President and CEO. “As Professor Yehuda Bauer said in his address to the UN Assembly in 2006, ‘We are all one human race—interconnected and interdependent.’
“We can only imagine the beauty, brilliance and distinction that the victims of the Holocaust would have brought to our world. The capacity for evil that allowed their lives to be extinguished is inherent in each of us, and must be combated by each of us with the desire to do what is right and good.”
Rabbi Shawn Zell of Congregation Tiferet Israel of Dallas told the 85 people in attendance—including 10 local Survivors and a large contingent of visiting college students—that the total number of Jews affected by the Holocaust is closer to 30 million, factoring in the likely growth of families of murdered Jews.
“Each one of us, by virtue of being here today, share the heritage of the six million Jews not here with us today,” Rabbi Zell said. “Let’s continue to hold them in our hearts.”
Fr. Jonathan Austin of St. Jude (Catholic) Chapel in downtown Dallas urged those in attendance to embrace the full meaning of the word “tolerance.”
“Tolerance means a profound respect and love for the other person no matter the person’s nationality, language, religion or other background,” Fr. Austin said. “That’s why we must be vigilant in examining ourselves for places of darkness…Joy, love and peace are the weapons we have to collaborate against the darkness in the world today.”
Following the brief remarks by Mrs. Higgins, Rabbi Zell and Fr. Austin, the attendees, led by the local Survivors, moved next door to the Museum’s Memorial Room where Rabbi Zell said the Kaddish prayer and lit the Yarzeit candle in memory of Holocaust victims.
“We should not forgive ourselves if we ever forget,” Rabbi Zell said.
–Chris Kelley, for the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance