The Holocaust challenges all peoples and nations—and people of faith in particular—to stand against genocide, bigotry and racism wherever they occur. Mindful of this challenge, Seattle University Campus Ministry and the School of Theology and Ministry convene an annual Holocaust and Genocide Remembrance Day Commemoration as both a reminder of past horrors and a call to action to prevent future tragedies.
For a number of years, Seattle University’s observance was held on or near Yom HaShoah, which is Hebrew for “Day of the Catastrophe”.
Yom HaShoah marks the anniversary of the Jewish Warsaw ghetto uprising against the Nazis. Yom HaShoah occurs on 27th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan, which falls in April or May of the Gregorian calendar. Many Jewish groups around the world, and particularly in Israel, observe Yom Hashoah as a day of mourning and remembrance for all Holocaust victims. Respectfully following their lead, the United States Congress established the Days of Remembrance as our nation’s annual commemoration of the Holocaust. The Days of Remembrance run from the Sunday before Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah) through the following Sunday.
To avoid the proliferation of events in the community on Yom HaShoah, Seattle University now commemorates the Holocaust on or near January 27th, which is International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust as designated by the United Nations.
January 27th was the day in 1945 when the Soviet troops liberated the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland. Auschwitz-Birkenau, near Oświęcim, Poland, was one of the most notorious Nazi death camps. More than one million people died in Auschwitz-Birkenau before Soviet troops liberated it. The name “Auschwitz” is almost synonymous with the Holocaust.
On January 24, 2005, the UN General Assembly marked the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps. On November 1, 2005, the Assembly adopted a resolution designating January 27th as the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. On this annual day of commemoration, every member state of the UN has an obligation to honor the victims of the Nazi era and to develop educational programs to help prevent future genocides.