International Holocaust Remembrance Day marked in Calgary
'Today, we take a moment to remember the innocent lives lost'
City officials and members of the community filled the atrium at City Hall on Monday to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day.
It's the first time the City of Calgary has officially commemorated the anniversary.
The concentration camp at Auschwitz in Poland, where 1.1 million people were murdered by the German Nazis, was liberated by the Soviet army on Jan. 27, 1945.
Earlier this year, Calgary city council unanimously passed a notice of motion — "Combating Antisemitism in the City of Calgary" — which included a resolution formally recognizing and proclaiming Jan. 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Dahlia Libin, granddaughter to four Holocaust survivors, thanked city council for proclaiming the day.
"The Holocaust was an unparalleled genocide, total and systemic, from 1939 until 1945, by Nazi Germany and its collaborators. Its goal was to extinguish the Jewish people from the face of the Earth," she said.
"Over six million Jewish men, women, children and babies, and five million non-Jewish individuals — 11 million in total —were brutally murdered and tortured by the hands of men and women who simply did not want these people to exist, because of their religion, their physical condition, their political views, and their sexual identities."
An annual audit by B'nai Brith Canada last year found that of 1,752 hate-related complaints across Canada, 206 were in Alberta.
And one in five young people in Canada either hasn't heard of the Holocaust or isn't sure what it is, a survey by the Azrieli Foundation found.
Libin said this makes it as critical as ever to know the past and to confront all forms of hatred.
"We as a city are standing up today and taking a step in ensuring our community will learn from the moral and societal failures that made the Holocaust possible," she said.
"Today, we take a moment to remember the innocent lives lost."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day with a statement calling the atrocities committed in the middle of the last century one of the darkest chapters in human history.
"Today, we remember and pay tribute to the more than six million Jews who were senselessly murdered during the Holocaust, and the countless other victims of Nazi atrocities," he said.
"We also honour the survivors and share their stories of courage, hope and perseverance against unspeakable evil, and recognize the heroes who risked their lives to save others."