Holocaust Remembrance Day and the Liberation of Auschwitz
Holocaust Remembrance Day is January 27. It was established by the UN in 2005 on the 60th anniversary of the 1945 liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, but the date had been observed by many countries for years. Auschwitz was the largest of the Nazi concentration camps—more than a million people were killed there in Hitler’s plan to eliminate Europe’s eleven million Jews.
Knowing that the Allies were closing in, SS leader Heinrich Himmler ordered the evacuation of concentration camps in hopes of keeping prisoners from falling into Allied hands and telling their stories, as well as to keep them as bargaining chips in possible negotiations at the end of World War II. At Auschwitz in the days before liberation, hundreds were killed and around 60,000 were forced to march to Polish cities 30 miles or more away. Those who could not keep up were shot and many died from the cold and starvation—maybe as many as 15,000 did not make it.
When the Soviets finally arrived at Auschwitz, they found more than 7,000 remaining prisoners, most of whom were sick or dying
Initially, the camp was established to hold Polish political prisoners. It wasn’t until after the January 1942 Wannsee Conference
that Auschwitz became a destination for Jews and other people who were deemed undesirable to the Nazis. One of Himmler’s top deputies, Reinhard Heydrich, convened the meeting of many high-ranking German officials to come up with the implementation of “The Final Solution to the Jewish Question.” Heydrich, dubbed by Hitler as “the man with the iron heart,” was a chief architect of the Holocaust, having played a large part in justifying the invasion of Poland, the planning of Kristallnact, the formation of the Einsatzgruppen and the implementation of the extermination camps.
As Allied forces made their way through German-held territory, other camps were liberated, ending the sickening Nazi effort at genocide.
Of course, the Holocaust has now become part of the history curriculum (and other curricula), as we continue to examine how the darkness in the heart of one man could lead to the deaths of six million people. It is a difficult subject. eLibrary is here to help educators tackle it with a rich variety of articles, photos, quality website links, maps and more, including the stories of survivors. Many of these assets are gathered together for easy access in our Research Topics, which provide everything from overviews to in-depth analysis to help your students get started on their research or to supplement your instruction.
Holocaust Remembrance Day is a good time to examine the lives lost and to reflect on how we can respect human dignity. Following is a partial list of Research Topics relevant to the subject. Other RTs and plenty of individual resources can be discovered by searching in the new eLibrary
or by browsing through our Common Assignments and Subjects trees, which have an engaging graphical interface. (Quick tip: After you have done a search, click on "Other Sources" to get at Research Topics more easily.)
Nazi Concentration Camps
Many of our Holocaust-related RTs have been assembled in this jump page:
ProQuest Research Topic Guide: Holocaust