January 27 marks the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps in 1945 by allied forces, where over 1 million innocent people were systematically murdered by the Nazi regime. This day has been designated since 2005 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day by the United Nations General Assembly.
Today is a day to remember the victims and survivors of the Holocaust and recognize their extraordinary courage and resilience. It is a day to learn about the Holocaust and reflect on its atrocities to make sure that such unspeakable violence and injustice is never repeated.
Six million Jewish people were murdered in this genocide, as well as millions of Slavic, non-Jewish Polish, and Romani peoples, people with disabilities, 2SLGBTQ2IA+ people, Black and racialized people, communists, and other political or ideological opponents of the Nazi regime. We honour their lives, their memory, and their legacy, which lives on in everyone who speaks up and acts against discrimination and injustice.
Canada was not immune to the hatred that gave rise to one of the darkest moments in human history. In 1939 for example, Canada denied refuge to 900 Jewish refugees aboard the MS St. Louis and the ship returned to Germany. That decision ultimately led to the death of a third of the passengers in concentration camps.
The bigotry that led to that decision continues today as we witness a rise in hate crimes in Canada, including ones rooted in antisemitism. In honour of the victims of the Holocaust, today must serve as a reminder to act and use our voice pursuit of equity and social justice.
PSAC renews its commitment to fight antisemitism and all other forms of hate, racism and discrimination in our workplaces, our union, and our communities.
Learn more about the Holocaust
The Holocaust and Genocide – Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights
The Madeleine and Monte Levy Virtual Museum of the Holocaust and Resistance – McMaster University Library
History of the Holocaust – Montreal Holocaust Museum
Outreach Programme on the Holocaust – United Nations