Since 1996, survivors of the Nazi regime and world leaders have been invited to address the German Bundestag each year on January 27 to commemorate the Holocaust. Often, they focus on contemporary issues.
Genocide: Is this the appropriate word to describe the systematic annihilation of 6 million Jews between 1939 and 1945? Clearly, it does not go far enough.
In Israel, “Shoah,” meaning “catastrophe” or “great misfortune,” is used to describe the event. And outside the Jewish state, this crime against humanity is called the Holocaust, derived from the Greek for “sacrificially burned.”
The attempt to adequately put this betrayal of humanity perpetrated by Germans into words will always be a challenge. This is also reflected in the official designation of the “Day of Remembrance for the Victims of National Socialism,” which was introduced by then-German President Roman Herzog.
At the launch, President Herzog said that “Victims of the Holocaust” would have been “too narrow a term, as Nazi racial policies affected more people than just the Jews.” On January 27, 1945, Soviet troops liberated the biggest Nazi concentration camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau in the then occupied Poland.