Today, the world comes together to honor the millions of Jewish and non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
Designated by the United Nations General Assembly to coincide with the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, International Holocaust Remembrance Day (Jan. 27) sets aside one day a year for member states of the UN to commemorate the lives lost at the hands of the Nazis and to emphasize the need to develop educational programs that might help prevent future genocides.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon reaffirmed the priorities of having a day of remembrance during the second annual observance, stating, “The International Day in memory of the victims of the Holocaust is thus a day on which we must reassert our commitment to human rights. We must also go beyond remembrance, and make sure that new generations know this history. We must apply the lessons of the Holocaust to today’s world. And we must do our utmost so that all peoples may enjoy the protection and rights for which the United Nations stands.”
As a component of the Dallas Holocaust Museum’s own mission to teach the history of the Holocaust and advance human rights, the DHM held its own event this past Sunday, January 24, in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Mary Pat Higgins, President and CEO of the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance, opened the event with background on the UN’s intentions behind establishing a day of remembrance and what responsibilities the Museum must take upon itself in order to properly honor the spirit of the day.
“At the Museum, we are grateful for every opportunity we have to teach the history of the Holocaust and advance human rights,” said Higgins. “Especially on days like today, as we honor and remember those who lost their lives to senseless prejudice and blind hatred, we recognize how important this mission is. We can only hope, as the United Nations Declaration states, that the Holocaust ‘will forever be a warning to all people of the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism, and prejudice.’”
Remarks by Rabbi Shawn Zell of Tiferet Israel and Rev. Dr. Andy Stoker of First United Methodist Church in Dallas reinforced the need for educational programs and institutions like the Museum to aid in the fight against prejudice, hatred, and indifference.
“Today is another opportunity to heal our world,” said Dr. Stoker.
Rabbi Zell spoke movingly about a beloved elementary school teacher of blessed memory who taught at the Jewish Day School he attended, a man who was a Holocaust Survivor who helped reunite hundreds of Jewish children hidden in Catholic orphanages during WW II. “We (students) were weaned on Survivors,” Rabbi Zell said. “He was my favorite teacher.”
Local survivors in attendance included Rosa Blum, Tova Feldman, Irma Freudenreich, Kurt Plaut, Jack Repp, Max Spindler, Heinz Wallach, and Rosian Zerner.
-Chris Kelley, for the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance