Holocaust Days of Remembrance: Preserving our Future

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Wadhams
  • 341st Force Support Squadron

Less than 100 years ago, in January 1933, Adolf Hitler was put into power in Germany and the Nazi regime began its mission to eradicate any group that threatened their racial superiority.

Hitler’s primary target was more than 9 million Jews who inhabited Europe, believing they were ‘an alien threat to the German racial community.’

The Nazi party unleashed their atrocities to more than just the Jewish people, but also targeted gypsies, homosexuals, people with disabilities, and multiple Slavic peoples.

The Nazis perceived these groups as racially inferior. Their attacks expanded to anyone who did not fall in line with the Nazi party’s political agenda and lifestyle habits.

To many of us, these events are known as the Holocaust.

The Holocaust took place during World War II, starting after Germany’s invasion of Poland in September 1939.

The Nazi party and the Soviets, a German ally during the war, began its persecution of the Jewish people by confiscating their personal properties and placing them into concentration camps.

From 1939 to 1945, Nazi Germany deported and killed approximately 6 million Jewish men, women and children. Many were starved or worked to death in these camps.

If that wasn’t their fate, they were murdered using various brutal means, but primarily in mass gas chambers using Zyklon B, a cyanide-based poison.

It wasn’t until 1945 when the Allied Liberating Forces pushed back the German forces and uncovered their concentration camps, discovering inconceivable amounts of human remains.

General Dwight Eisenhower went as far as to order any American soldiers not on the front lines to tour these camps so they could witness these atrocities and gain an understanding for what they were fighting for.

Through the uncovering of these camps, thousands of survivors were discovered and liberated from their suffering.

As a result of their liberation, the U.S. and its allies began the prosecution of the Nazi and Axis parties for their crimes of war.

Between October 1945 and October 1946, 22 Nazi and other Axis Power personnel were tried for major war crimes during the Nuremberg Trials. Many were sentenced to death or life in prison.

These convictions would not have been made possible without the help of the first-hand accounts of survivors, U.S. troops and their allies.

They shared their experiences, making sure no one could overlook the horrific and barbaric events that transpired.

In doing so, they were ensuring that the world never have to witness anything like the Holocaust again.

The modern military that we have come to serve forged its legacy in its fight against Hitler and his Nazi regime.

It took all the strength and sacrifice our brave men and women could possibly give to ensure our allies came out victorious.

In 1980, Congress established the United States Holocaust Memorial Council.

This council is charged with furthering education and supporting research surrounding the Holocaust. We must never forget!