On 27 January 1945, Soviet troops of the Russian 60th Army were the first to arrive at the Polish town of Oświęcim (Auschwitz in German), discovering the nearby concentration camp. The opening of those gates showed the world not only many witnesses of the tragedy, but also the instruments of torture and annihilation used in that Nazi lager to exterminate two thirds of the European Jewish population, 70% of whom were women and children. Often at the entrance to the concentration camp, mothers with small children in their arms were directly sent to the gas chamber or made victims of experiments aimed at sterilising them in the total absence of respect for life and human dignity.
For women, imprisonment represented a complete exposure of their bodies to the gaze of others. Liliana Segre, who was deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau women’s camp at the age of thirteen, said: “In the camp I felt very strongly the violated modesty, the contempt of the male Nazis towards humiliated women”. (Source: ilpost.it)
Hannah Arendt, one of the greatest political thinkers of the twentieth century, wrote in ‘The Origins of Totalitarianism’ that the camps served ‘not only to exterminate and degrade individuals, but also to carry out the horrendous experiment of eliminating, under scientifically controlled and controllable conditions, spontaneity itself as an expression of human behaviour’.
DON'T FORGET DON'T DENY
The UN General Assembly recently adopted by consensus a resolution proposed by Israel calling on all states to combat Holocaust denial, including on social media. The resolution is not legally binding but has a strong and indispensable political and human significance. The text, presented by Israel and Germany, was co-sponsored by 114 countries. Iran has formally signalled its opposition by dissociating itself.
Photo: avvenire.it /L’Assemblea Generale dell’Onu a New York – Archivio
This is the second time in history that an Israeli resolution has been passed by the UN General Assembly. The first time was in 2005, when the body designated 27 January as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This vote also had a symbolic value because it falls on the 80th anniversary of the Wannsee Conference (20 January 1942), when Nazi hierarchs met south of Berlin to define the so-called “final solution to the Jewish question”. (Source avvenire.it 20/01.2022)