Today is January, 27th. On this day in 1945, 76 years ago, soviet forces finally liberated the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. Ending the slaughter of European jews, Sinti & Roma, Homosexuals, Communists, Social Democrats in this place. Since 2005 this day is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
For many this liberation came too late, and the murderous regime kept murdering those they could still murder for months to come.
Before the Red Army reached Auschwitz, the Nazis «evacuated» some 60.000 people forcing them to march until their deaths.
By the time the Red Army liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau about 1.1 million jews, 140.000 Poles, 20.000 Sinti & Roma, 10.000 Soviet prisoners have already been deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Of those only 400.000 were officially registered. Half of those died. It is more than likely that those not registered were murdered shortly after arrival.
Those are horrendous numbers. But, more so, millions of individuals.
They had names. Aurelia Kohotek. Marion Ehrlich. Lazarus Rosenbaum. Zygmunt Sawaszkiewicz. Lutz Ludwig Grünstein. Rozetta Brest. Maria Chorabik. Esther Polak. Hanuš Glaser. Józef Krupiński . Alida Baruch. Suzanne Kuna. Piotr Krestjaninov. Maria Sajkówna. Chaim Pejsakowicz. Aleksander Raczyński. Rudolf Blum. Józef Czajkowski. Icek Cymbler. Berisch Zeisel. Fajgel Leah Leipziger. Marie Schleweis. Blima Leipziger. Franz Krall. Józef Motyl. Marie Frankenbuschová. And many, many more.
With individual stories never told. Individual dreams never dreamt. Individual laughs never again heard. Individuals tears never dropped. They are more than a statistic.
The Auschwitz Museum is commemorating them on Twitter, one by one on their birthday. Go follow, if you don’t do it already.
As our collective memory is threaten to vanish, let’s not forget that there are groups in our societies for whom forgetting is not a passive but rather an active act. From the fringes of the far right, which openly denies the Holocaust has ever happened, to conservatives which went from the Hitler regime to serving – and leading – post-war Germany. From the Wehrsportgruppe Hofmann to the Hannibal network. From fascist memes to rioters storming the US Capitol in t-shirts with prints like «6MWE», meaning «Six millions weren't enough» – openly propagating the end of Jewish life on earth. Six million were six million too much. Let’s never forget what happens if fascism goes unchecked. If we say «Oh, it’s not that bad, is it.» It is.
We are still only beginning to grasp the connections between German police and military and the far-right. Trading weapons, information, personell. We are nearing the first anniversary of the fascist attack in Hanau, and again police and intelligence services are reluctant to state the obvious, right terror, leaving the painful act of investigating the circumstances to the families and friends of those killed. They have created the Initiative 19th February.
There’s continuity in hate. There has to be continuity in resistance. There has to be antifascism. Every day. Everywhere. Whatever the means.