Holocaust survivors and representatives of governments from around the world are gathering in at the Auschwitz concentration camp Monday to mark the 75th anniversary of the camp’s liberation.
The camp, and the nearby death camp of Birkenau, have become the most recognized symbols of the Holocaust, in which Nazi Germany murdered 6 million Jews and 5 million others, including dissidents, gypsies and homosexuals.
January 27th also marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day, designated as such by the United Nations in a 2005 resolution by the UN General Assembly. Until then, Jews had already commemorated the Holocaust on “Yom Hashoah,” established by the new State of Israel in 1951 on the 27th day of the Hebrew month of Nissan, which occurs in the spring, and which commemorates the resistance to the Nazis as well.
Disputes continue over the Holocaust’s legacy. The UK Guardian reports: “The Polish president, Andrzej Duda, will be among the speakers on Monday. Last week he hit out at the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, for falsely claiming Poland had colluded with Hitler in starting the second world war. Duda refused to travel to Jerusalem, after being denied permission to speak there [while Putin was to deliver an address].”
In the U.S., the Holocaust has also been used as a political weapon. Three years ago, opponents of President Donald Trump criticized a White House statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day that did not specifically mention Jews, accusing him of antisemitism. The White House vigorously disputed that claim, and sent the first official U.S. delegation to the March of the Living commemoration at Auschwitz last year.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.