The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed January 27 — the day in 1945 that Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration and death camp was liberated by Russia's Red Army — as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This year will be the 13th Remembrance Day.
Eunice G. Pollack, lecturer in the University of North Texas Department of History and a faculty member in UNT’s Jewish and Israel Studies Program, is a member of the Academic Council of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies and co-editor of The Encyclopedia of American Jewish History. She says that Holocaust Remembrance Day "is critically important now, as the remaining Holocaust survivors are passing away." These survivors "will no longer be here to respond to those who continue to deny, minimize or distort the Shoah," she says.
Pollack notes that, for decades, staff members at most schools ignored or barely addressed the Holocaust, or presented it inaccurately. In recent years, she says, "the Holocaust is being universalized, with numerous events characterized incorrectly as 'a holocaust,'" which she says is in part an effort "to deflect attention from the world's longest hatred and the nearly successful effort to annihilate the world’s Jews."
"Even more insidious is the current tendency of anti-Semites to engage in Holocaust inversion, falsely accusing Jews —the Jewish state— of perpetrating 'a holocaust' against Palestinian Arabs, another effort to dismiss what was done to the Jews," Pollack says. "Thus, this day serves as a reminder to dedicate ourselves to confronting and understanding the Shoah and to recognizing and combating the antisemitism that still abounds today."