Washington (BWA)--January 27 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, so designated by the United Nations (UN) by Resolution 60/7, passed by the General Assembly in 2005.
The resolution warns against "the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice." It urges UN Member States "to develop educational programs that will inculcate future generations with the lessons of the Holocaust in order to help to prevent future acts of genocide," and "rejects any denial of the Holocaust as an historical event, either in full or part."
The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) also rejects all types and forms of anti-Semitism, and calls on Baptists everywhere to reject anti-Semitic ideas and actions and all forms of racial and ethnic discrimination and to work to eradicate anti-Semitism and racism wherever they are found.
In 1934, BWA member organizations met in Germany as Hitler was consolidating his power. There, the BWA issued a prophetic appeal against "racialism," despite the appeal's apparent challenge to a suppressive and threatening Nazism. In 1947, the Seventh Baptist World Congress met in Copenhagen, Denmark, and passed resolutions denouncing race extermination and anti-Semitism and appealed to the nations to open their doors to Jewish refugees.
The observance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day marks the date in 1945 when the largest Nazi death camp in Poland (Auschwitz-Berkenau) was liberated by Soviet troops and the extent of the genocide committed during World War II began to be widely known. At least 18 governments had already designated January 27 as Holocaust Memorial Day when the UN took this action in 2005.
It is estimated that Nazis systematically murdered six million Jews (two thirds the population of Jews in Europe at the time); half a million Romanies (also known as "Gypsies"); and a quarter of a million mentally ill or handicapped persons; in addition to Africans, Asians, thousands of Christian ministers, and persons killed because they were homosexual or political and religious dissidents.
Today, watch groups that report anti-Semitism allege that incidents are on the rise in several countries. Holocaust "deniers" persist in claims that historical events were fabricated.
Meanwhile, the number of ethnic groups that are displaced or persecuted are growing. These include Myanmar refugees on the Thailand border and several groups that are internally displaced in some African nations. Further, the Romani people still face harassment, violence, and economic and educational discrimination, as do Muslims, Jews, and Christians, and those of other religious persuasions, wherever a majority practice prejudice against minorities.
Resolution 60/7 calls for Holocaust Remembrance Week, established as part of the Outreach Division of the UN Department of Public Information. UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon, on one such observance said, "We must also go beyond remembrance, and make sure that new generations know this history. We must apply the lessons of the Holocaust to today's world."
The Baptist World Alliance Division of Freedom and Justice tirelessly exercises the BWA's NGO special consultative status before the UN as the voice of Baptists against hate and discrimination, and works for human rights for all people, regardless of race or religion. A BWA decade emphasizing a Christian call for racial equality was completed in 2010.