27 January 1945 marks the liberation of the Auschwitz – Birkenau concentration camp, the site of the mass killings and suffering of over 1 million men, women and children in World War II. To commemorate the suffering of the Jewish people, as well as all other victims of the Nazi regime, the International Holocaust Remembrance Day is observed annually on this date.

Established in 2005 by the UN Resolution 60/7 with the aim of combatting antisemitism, racism and all other forms of intolerance and violence against minority groups and promoting understanding and friendship amongst peoples and religions, the event is taking place this year under the theme “Memory, Dignity and Justice”, keeping in mind the fact that remembering the victims, safeguarding the historical record and challenging the distortion of history often expressed in contemporary antisemitism are the key aspects of claiming justice for all victims and survivors of the Nazi terror and their families.

The topic is as contemporary and public awareness raising as necessary as ever, as witnessed in the recent pandemic period. In the past two years both in Europe as well as globally, conspiracy theories have surfaced alluding to the purported involvement of various persons of the Jewish fate in the pandemic and responses to it. In Croatia this trend was reflected in the recent posting of posters in the country’s capital with antisemitic content, which triggered both the response of the Zagreb Jewish Community as well as the Ombudswoman’s investigation procedure. Additionally, some of the participants in the recent protests against vaccination and the measures introduced to curb the spread of the pandemic could be seen wearing the star of David symbol on their clothing and have been comparing the mask and COVID certificate mandates with the prosecution of Jews in the World War II. This is not only utterly inappropriate, but also trivializes the events that took place in that historical period and the suffering they caused.

This year’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day commemoration features a series of activities with the aim of stressing the role of both the institutions as well as individuals in supporting the survivors, exploring the long-term effects of the Holocaust on the survivors’ families and discussing its influence on the creation of contemporary human rights policies.

Additionally, this day is marked by the World Jewish Congress’ campaign #WeRemember with the goal of preventing future atrocities and building a better future for all by keeping the memory of the suffering experienced in the past alive, as well as by the continuation of the global initiative under the motto #ProtectTheFacts jointly established by the European Commission, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), the United Nations, and UNESCO and aiming at public awareness raising and at countering Holocaust distortion and denial.