International Holocaust Remembrance at UBC

Jan. 27 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Angela Bower speaks to those observing the day about why it’s important to talk about antisemitism and the legacy of the Holocaust.

By Angela Bower

Organizers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) remembered the International Holocaust Remembrance Day (IHRD) Friday with an exhibit.

“How was it Humanly Possible” is an exhibit set up for the 78th annual IHRD The exhibit is open to all students to view.

Executive director Rob Philips says the exhibit is intended to tell the full story of the Holocaust, from start to finish.

“It goes on to talk about how Jews had to separate themselves, and they had to wear stars to the population would recognize them,” said Philips.

UBC students participated in events all week at Hillel House, including a talk by David Schaffer, a Holocaust survivor.

“What can be done to avoid such a thing from being done again is a challenge for all of you,” said Schaeffer.

More than a million people were killed in Nazi-run extermination camps across Europe during World War Two.

“It is incredibly important to come out and hear these stories, because of the dehumanization by Nazi Germany. We must be active in the idea of never again- it’s a slogan be it needs to be more than a slogan- we need to actively participate, and thinking about how we can never let this dehumanization ever happen again,” explained Josh Hart, a first year student at UBC.

Students and organizers alike say they have learned a lot about what took place during the Holocaust, and the importance of preserving survivors’ stories.

“Right Now, we are the generation that is going to have to educate about the Holocaust in the absence of survivors. Unfortunately, the number of Holocaust survivors is dwindling every day, and having those sorts of conversations are going to be important to understand the severity and scale of these atrocities are well understood. The organizers here say it’s important to educate people on the events of the Holocaust, so history doesn’t repeat itself,” said fourth year UBC student Amit Aloni.

“It’s shocking when you stop to think about where we are going today and what’s happening around the world, it is mind-boggling. It’s ongoing and we don’t seem to learn and the only way is we need to educate,” said Philips.

“It is in these walls of Hillel BC, it is our values and mission educate Jews and non-Jews, and we want to make sure we do that,” said UBC program coordinator Einat Livni.

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Meanwhile, The Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver says it has seen a steady rise in antisemitism and violence in recent years.

“It is also why we have been pushing the provincial government to make genocide studies part of the core curriculum. We want to see that happen. Because we know that education is the greatest weapon to combat antisemitism,” said Ezra Shanken, the federation’s chief executive officer.

Even though the Holocaust took place over 90 years ago, the event’s organizers say it still affects many today.

“The allied troops were horrified by what they found. It’s tough to talk about this, I have to say, because there are very few Jewish people who were touched by what happened here. My parents escaped Germany in 1938 and moved to British Columbia, that is where I was born. So, we are all touched in some way by the calamity,” Philips explained.

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