HomeNewsPope remembers Holocaust, warns it could occur again

Pope remembers Holocaust, warns it could occur again

Be aware of how this road of death, extermination and brutality began, pope says on International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Pope Francis has marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day while warning that such atrocities could reoccur when societies follow ideologies that can lead to death and destruction.

“Today, the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi extermination camp of Auschwitz, we celebrate International Holocaust Remembrance Day,” Pope Francis said during his general audience at the Vatican on Jan. 27.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in the south of Nazi-occupied Poland was liberated by Soviet forces in the final year of World War II on Jan. 27, 1945. It was the largest of six Nazi extermination camps where an estimated 1.1 million plus people were murdered of whom more than 90 percent were Jewish.

“We commemorate the victims of the Holocaust and all those persecuted and deported by the Nazi regime,” the pope said.

Main railway building is pictured on the site of the former Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, empty due to COVID-19 restrictions, two days before the 76th virtual anniversary of the liberation of the camp in Brzezinka near Oswiecim, Poland, Jan. 25. (Photo by Kacper Pempel/Reuters)

The Holocaust, also known as the ‘Shoah’ in Hebrew, was the planned genocide of the European Jews by the Nazis and their collaborators during the war.

The exact figure of how many Jewish men, women and children were murdered is not known, but it’s estimated that 6 million people perished.

The pope said that remembrance is an expression of humanity. “Remembrance is a sign of civilization. To remember is a condition for a better future of peace and fraternity,” he said.

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“Remembrance also means being careful because these things can happen again, starting with ideological proposals that are intended to save a people and end up destroying a people and humanity,” he added.  

“Be aware of how this road of death, extermination and brutality began.”

In 2016, Pope Francis became the third pope to visit the location of the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp which is now a memorial and museum. The other two pontiffs were Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day was designated by the United Nations General Assembly on Nov. 1, 2005.

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