International Holocaust Remembrance Day marks the 79th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz

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Decades after the Holocaust, stark memories of a German concentration camp come back to 83-year-old Dirk van Lenan, who spent the week leading up to International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Saturday educating Arizona students about the atrocities.

“I have nightmares sometimes,” Van Lenen said of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp where he and his family were sent when he was 5 years old. Interview with The Arizona Republicpart of the USA TODAY Network.

Saturday marks the 79th anniversary of the day Soviet forces liberated Auschwitz, the concentration camp complex where more than a million people were killed by the Nazis between 1940 and 1945, the vast majority of them Jews. In all, the Nazis killed 6 million European Jews during the Holocaust.

Since January 27 was designated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2005 by the United Nations, the day has brought survivors and their communities together across the United States to remember the lives lost and recall the importance of combating anti-Semitism.

“It’s important that when we say we don’t forget, we never forget, and part of that is being present and listening to the voices of those who suffered the Holocaust and their families,” Massachusetts State Senator Robin Kennedy said at a news conference. An event to commemorate the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Friday.

The 2024 commemoration events come more than three months after the killing of approximately 1,200 Israeli civilians, and the taking of more than 200 hostage, by the armed Hamas movement on October 7, 2023, which is widely considered the bloodiest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust. The United States and countries around the world recorded a slight increase In reports of anti-Semitism since then. Officials in Gaza said that the war had claimed the lives of more than 26,000 Palestinians.

“Violence and murderous attacks against Jews were on the rise long before 7 October”. “.

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“On this somber International Holocaust Remembrance Day, we hold the Jewish community and the people of Israel close to our hearts,” President Joe Biden said in a statement.

An Arizona Holocaust survivor teaches students to celebrate Memorial Day

all week, Van Lenen recounted his escape from a Nazi concentration camp To a room full of Phoenix-area children trying to teach young people about the dangers of anti-Semitism.

Dirk van Lenen is one of approximately 38,400 Holocaust survivors in the United States. According to a study Published on Tuesday by the Conference of Jewish Material Claims against Germany. About 65 Holocaust survivors currently reside in metro Phoenix, including some survivors over 100 years old, according to Phoenix Holocaust Society records.

Holocaust survivor Dirk van Lenen at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts on January 25, 2024.

His father was part of the resistance in the Netherlands, which Van Lenen says rescued more than 1,000 Jews who were transported to different parts of the country and placed in hiding.. Van Lennen was 5 years old when he and his family were sent in 1945 to Bergen-Belsen — the same German concentration camp where 16-year-old Anne Frank died of typhus earlier that same year.. Two days after their arrival, the camp was liberated on April 15, 1945 by the British Army.

As Arizona tries to improve student education about the Holocaust, Van Lenen told students about the cruelty of seeing camp prisoners die of hunger, falling into “piles of corpses” with their lifeless faces visible. Read more here.

People around the world are denouncing anti-Semitism on Saturday

At the Auschwitz site, a group of about 20 survivors from various death camps are scheduled to gather on Saturday, to lay wreaths and say prayers to commemorate the lives lost.

According to the museum there, the theme of the 79th anniversary is man, “symbolically depicted through the faces of people imprisoned at Auschwitz, immortalized in drawings made during the camp’s existence and after the war.”

Holocaust survivor Ricky Taras sits in the audience after listening to fellow Holocaust survivor Henry Friedman speak to the audience during the International Holocaust Remembrance Day commemoration at Civic Park in Palm Desert, California, Friday, January 26, 2024.

Holocaust survivor Ricky Taras sits in the audience after listening to fellow Holocaust survivor Henry Friedman speak to the audience during the International Holocaust Remembrance Day commemoration at Civic Park in Palm Desert, California, Friday, January 26, 2024.

World leaders in Germany, Ukraine, Italy and elsewhere delivered speeches to commemorate the anniversary. German Chancellor Olaf Schulz said that his country will continue to bear responsibility for this “crime against humanity.”

“Never Again” every day, Schultz said on his weekly video podcast. January 27 calls to us: Stay visible! Stay heard! Against anti-Semitism, against racism, against misanthropy – and for our democracy.”

On Friday, a memorial service was held in Warsaw at the foot of the monument to the Ghetto Heroes who fell fighting the Nazis in 1943. Earlier in the week, the countries of the former Yugoslavia signed an agreement to renovate Building 117 at Auschwitz and establish a permanent exhibition there in memory of some 20,000 people who were deported. From their land and bring them to the building.

in the United States, Libraries planned commemorative events With testimonies about local links to the Holocaust. In Columbus, Ohio, Kehillat Sukat Shalom and the First Unitarian Community Church planned a stay An evening of works including many composers and writers who have died In or survived the Holocaust.

Family members of Holocaust survivors light candles, one for each million Jews killed in the Holocaust, at the foot of the Memorial in Civic Park in Palm Desert, California, Friday, January 26, 2024.

Family members of Holocaust survivors light candles, one for each million Jews killed in the Holocaust, at the foot of the Memorial in Civic Park in Palm Desert, California, Friday, January 26, 2024.

Family members of Holocaust survivors lit candles, one for each million Jews killed in the Holocaust, at the foot of a memorial at Civic Park in Palm Desert, California, on Friday. Holocaust survivors Ricky Taras and Henry Friedman attended. The Friedman family hid from the Nazis in what was then Brody, Poland in a barn for 18 months until the area was liberated from Nazi control and they were released.

Contributing: Veer Mudambi, The Worcester Telegram & Gazette; Palm Springs Desert Sun; Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: International Holocaust Remembrance Day is commemorated across the country

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