Honor the victims. Learn their stories. Say their names by visiting ushmm.org/WeRemember. Photo by Photo by U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

Remembering the Holocaust: Virtual ceremony showcases past speakers, survivors

It’s been said if people aren’t careful in history, mankind is doomed to repeat it. The Holocaust was one of the darkest periods in history when more than 6 million lives were lost.

Between 1933 and 1945, the German government, and the Nazi party, carried out the systematic persecution and murder of more than six million men, women, and children, according to Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall’s Equal Opportunity Office. This genocide is now known as the “Holocaust.” The Nazi regime also persecuted and killed millions of other people that was considered politically, racially, or socially unfit.

On Nov. 1, 1978, then-President Jimmy Carter established the President’s Commission on the Holocaust, and charged it with the responsibility to submit a report on three significant issues: the creation of an appropriate memorial to those who perished in the Holocaust; the feasibility of creating and maintaining a memorial through contributions by the American people; and recommendations for appropriate ways the nation could commemorate Days of Remembrance each year for victims of the Holocaust, according to the Holocaust Museum.

In 1980, Congress established Days of Remembrance as the nation’s annual commemoration of the Holocaust.

On Tuesday the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., hosted a virtual Days of Remembrance to remember the more than 6 million who lost their lives in the Holocaust.

The virtual remembrance opened with photos and audio recordings of survivors talking about their family members who were killed during the Holocaust. They recalled memories of mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts and uncles and some who paid the ultimate price to ensure a loved one lived.

“Many could have been great scientists, lawyers, doctors … what a lost to humanity,” said one of the survivors.

The remembrance showcased past Days of Remembrance which included the 2018 ceremony. During that ceremony, the guest speaker was Benjamin Ferencz, a former Soldier who served under Gen. George S. Patton during World War II, and the lone surviving prosecutor from the Nuremburg trials. He recalled how the people looked after being liberated from concentration camps.

“Dead bodies (were) lying on the ground, people scrounged for morsels of food, the crematorium (was) still going (and) bodies (were) still in them,” recalled Ferencz. “The goal (was) kill them through work. That was the goal, that’s what they did.”

The video also showed survivors lighting candles from the 2018 and 2019 Days of Remembrance. The candles are lit in honor of the 6 million lives that were lost.

The lessons of the Holocaust are timeless, and reminds everyone the importance of common humanity, said a speaker during one of the past ceremonies.

“What haunts me (is) why did I survive,” said a survivor.

Say their names; honor the victims; learn their stories by visiting ushmm.org/weremember.