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Location: St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Friday, January 27, 2012

How the UN "freezes out" Holocaust Survivors' Families

Jack Kemp

January 27th is the date for the U.N.'s Holocaust Memorial Day, designated in 2005. The same memorial day is observed by the European Union. This January date coincides with the liberation of Auschwitz, yet Israel observes "Yom HaShoah" (Holocaust Day) on a Hebrew calendar date that falls in March or April of each year.

Why the discrepancy in dates? When the Israelis designated their day of Holocaust remembrance, they wisely looked to a future when most younger Holocaust survivors would be aging. Going outside to a memorial service in the dead of winter, even in a place like Jerusalem, is a daunting thing for a senior citizen. The U.N. And the Israeli government knew that American, Canadian and British Jews would hold their commemorations on or near the same date as the commemorations in Jerusalem. By having the event in the spring, the outdoor weather would not be such a problem for a future diminishing population of survivors.

While there is symbolism in picking the January date, yet there were many other concentration and labor camps besides Auschwitz scattered across Germany, Poland, France, the Soviet Union and elsewhere. The U.N. "coincidentally" chose a date most inconvenient for elderly Jews. By 2005, when the U.N. declared their memorial date, a twenty year old Holocaust survivor would be eighty, might live in Canada or Chicago or Stockholm - and would probably have to stay home to avoid snow drifts and strong winds. Thus the U.N. and the European Union chose a date that is the equivalent of free Bungee jumps for seniors. It was a sophisticated insult, in my opinion. Yes, most of the original survivors were dead by 2005, but their adult children, often around age sixty by 2005, would also be inclined to avoid a U.N. "cold shoulder commemoration" in northern climes.

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