Today, 27 January is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The day marks the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp by the Soviet Red Army in 1945.
Between 1933 and 1945, approximately two-thirds of Europe’s Jewish population, close to six million people were killed in the Holocaust. The overwhelming majority of those deported to the camps were Jewish, as the primary targets of racial laws and of the so-called Endlösung (‘Final Solution’) policy of Nazi Germany. However, hundreds of thousands of people belonging to other groups persecuted on racial or ideological grounds were also killed, including Roma, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, communists and other opponents of the Nazi regime.
The liberating Soviet soldiers found only some 7500 prisoners still alive in Auschwitz, mostly women and children.
Today there is a memorial and museum on the site of the former Auschwitz–Birkenau extermination camp, the establishment of which was decided by the Polish parliament in 1947.
While Hungary also marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Hungary also has a specific national Memorial Day on 16 April, dedicated to the Hungarian Jewish victims of the Holocaust. 16 April reminds us of the date when in 1944 the Hungarian Jewry was moved into ghettos. The Hungarian Memorial Day was proposed by the first Orbán government in 2000, on the 55th anniversary of the liberation of the Budapest ghetto.
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This article originally appeared in the Hungarian Conservative by Lili Zemplényi.