It is 11:11 am on January 27th and I wish to write a quick blog on something we should reflect upon. At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of each year, in Canada we remember the heroic sacrifice of those who fought the many horrible wars that have afflicted and continue to afflict the world. I and all of you enjoy the freedom of thinking, expressing ourselves and living that we have today because many fought against those who were taking that freedom from us. Many died.
Today is a very sad day as well, but one we do not pause to ponder upon, at least not in the way we do for November 11. Today is the day it was symbolically chosen as the anniversary of the end of the Shoah, the Jewish Holocaust of World War II by the Nazis. On January 27, 1945 the Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated by the Soviet Army. The Nazis had left the camp days before and left a number of prisoners alive in the camp without food and any other means of survival. A few more died before the Soviets arrived. Some are still alive today and testify of the atrocities of life in the lagers. Although the people who suffered the most were the Jewish, who lost 6 million of their own, many others were victims of this shame: 1,5 million romas, 3 million Soviet POW’s, 2 million ethnic Poles, 250,000 disabled, 80,000 freemasons, 25,000 Slovenes, 15,000 homosexuals, 5,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses, and many others from different ethnicities, beliefs and walks of life.
Others, like my grandfather, had to suffer personal consequences for not accepting to be part of the ‘regime’. When Colonel Alberto De Feo was asked to join the Fascist party and he refused, he was demoted, reassigned and deprived of any chance of future promotions. He was constantly spied upon and the family had to escape to a safe location during the war. My grandfather told his children to never forget the lessons of this horrible wars (he had been involved in three) and to always teach to our future generations to stand for what we believe and never compromise. My father did the same with my brother and me and I am doing the same with my children hoping that one day they will do so with theirs.
There is a movement today to negate the historical reality of the Holocaust and concentration camps. This movement is present in our society as well. It’s shameful because it refutes evidence and offends the memories of those who died, including those we remember on November 11. Let’s keep the memories of these events alive in our minds and let’s teach our future generations to appreciate the sufferings of those who have preceded us and taught us to have hope in a better world. They deserve it.