What the International Holocaust Day of Remembrance means to Charleston

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – On January 27th, the United Nations recognizes the anniversary of the liberation of the most infamous death camp, known as Auschwitz-Birkenau, as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

More than 1.1 million people died at Auschwitz while others who were not sentenced to the gas chamber immediately upon arrival were forced into labor. On this Wednesday, the world honors the millions of Jewish victims of the Holocaust and millions of other victims of Nazism. This is all in a hope to further develop educational programs and help prevent future genocides. 

The main point of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, according to those at the Charleston Jewish Federation, is that we learn and we remember. One thing to recall is that if we held a moment of silence for every victim of the Holocaust, we would be silent for 11 and a half years.

Joe Engel, a Charleston resident, not only survived the Holocaust but escaped from Auschwitz. Even now, he continues sharing his story and the lessons learned.

Things like this should never happen—and I don’t want my relatives to go through what I went through. 

Joe Engel, Holocaust Survivor 

Engel said that it’s important that “we have to prevent and love each other.” That message of love and prevention is one the Charleston Jewish Federation is pushing for through education. 

 

We lost you know 6 million plus Jewish people, 1.5 million innocent children, and 5 million others just because of who they were. And we don’t ever want to see anything like this happen in history again, but we have to continue working towards stopping all forms of hatred. 

Samantha Krantz, Remember Program Associate

Samantha Krantz, the Federation’s Remember Program Associate, said in order to stop history from repeating itself, individuals of all ages are taking action.

Krantz said the Federation is looking to make sure that the hate crime bill that is under consideration at the statehouse is put into place first to ‘Stamp Out Hate.’ Meanwhile, there are teens who are a part of the Remember Project at the Charleston Jewish Federation who are working towards getting the Holocaust mandated as part of the curriculum in the state of South Carolina. As of right now, it is not a teaching requirement but is recommended.

Krantz, who has heard from multiple survivors of the Holocaust, said the most important aspect is to remember the Holocaust itself everyday. Krantz explained that soon enough, it will become as simple as asking yourself if everything you do or each action you take is helping someone else.

How to remember the Holocaust in 2021:

(Per the Charleston Jewish Federation)

  • Read local stories of survivors on The Holocaust Quilt website. This website links the quilt to the Holocaust Archives Project at the Addlestone Library of the College of Charleston. This website is made possible through the generosity of the Sam and Regina Greene Foundation and the Jerry and Anita Zucker Family Endowment Fund. 
  • Request a Holocaust survivor or a child of survivor to speak at your school or organization virtually through the Charleston Jewish Federation’s Speakers Bureau.
  • Join the IRemember Wall at Yad Vashem. The IRemember Wall is a unique and meaningful opportunity for you to participate in an online commemorative activity marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day. By joining our IRemember Wall, your name will be randomly matched to the name of a Holocaust victim from our Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names, and will appear together on the Wall.
  • Use the #WeRemember hashtag on social media to share your thoughts or images, and to see content that others have posted.

For the video of the federation’s teens participating in the Remember Project, click here.

For the federation’s website, click here.

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