On the 27th of January, the world remembered the man-made monstrosity- the Holocaust. The Holocaust, or ‘Shoah’ in Hebrew, took the lives of six million Jews (two-thirds of the Jewish population in Europe) and destroyed so many more.

Contrary to popular belief, antisemitism has already previously made its mark in history before this tragedy. For example, the ancient Romans blamed Jews for Jesus’ death; in the medieval times they were used as scapegoats for any unfortunate incidents (such as the plague and missing children); they were even blamed why Nazi Germany lost WWI. However, Nazi Germany was not the only company to display this gross discrimination as, in 1290, England was the first European country to order all Jews out of the country (under the rule of Edward I). In fact, this law (‘Edict of Expulsion’)  remained intact until 1657. To some critics, the Holocaust was something anticipated.

It started with the Jewish community being stripped of their rights one after the other. Insane laws were passed such as prohibiting Jews from buying magazines or newspapers and use telephones; ordering them to stay at home from eight in the evening in the summer and nine in the winter; allowing them to only buy groceries from Jewish-owned businesses between four and five in the afternoon. These laws were not only designed to limit their freedom, but to also depress, mock and humiliate them. This is even more prevalent in the Nuremberg Laws (1935) which saw Jews only as German ‘subjects’ and forbade them from marrying or even having any romantic relationships with German citizens.

Jews were then forcefully rounded up and forced into overpopulated, disease-ridden ghettos. If the never-ending train ride to these ghettos did not kill these righteous humans, then the looming threat of typhus and persistent bed bugs could be the next contender. Even more chillingly, these bed-bugs were exterminated (an extremely rare occasion) using Zyklon B gas- the same used to take the lives of men, women and children alike in the gas chambers.

These ghettos were not unheard of to the rest of the world. In fact, the British Red Cross, the UK’s humanitarian network, visited Theresienstadt (a renowned death camp) in June 1944. The Red Cross followed a route designed carefully by the Nazis which passed freshly-painted houses done by exploited Jewish labourers to give the impression of a fresh, positive environment with a band playing background music at the ‘park.’ Even a particular interaction between the SS commander and the children of the camp was staged: the Nazi death-camp officer would offer the children chocolate and they were required to say, “Chocolate again, Uncle Rahm?” Without speaking to a single inmate, the Red Cross spoke very highly of the ghetto as if it were a health resort with a happy population- a detrimental mistake.

This massive genocide ended lives and ruined those of the survivors. It is a painful lesson and difficult reminder of humanity’s failure. However, Jewish lives should also be remembered with adoration and respect- these deaths should not remain a horrifying statistic. These humans were courageous in a time of great pain and sorrow, fearless in the face of imminent death and strong in a time where they stood alone. Humanity now needs work tirelessly for a better, accepting future so that the sufferings of the past may not be in vain. As Anne Frank once said,

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”