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International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2024

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) assigned International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, to take place annually on January 27. On this date, we remember the innocent victims who suffered tremendously, resulting in many losing their lives. Around six million Jewish people were killed during the Holocaust due to the Nazis and their allies committing mass genocide and acting upon their antisemitism beliefs before and during World War II.[1] The Holocaust began in January of 1933, when Adolf Hitler was appointed the Chancellor of Germany, and lasted until May of 1945 when Nazi Germany was defeated in World War II and the concentration camps were liberated.[2] 

As being one of the most globally discussed and recognized tragedies to occur in history, people all over the world remember the Holocaust victims with memorials, ceremonies, or however they see fit to think of those who lost their family, friends, and own lives during that time. Students learn about the Holocaust and World War II several times throughout the different grade levels in school during their history courses because the effect and aftermath of this horrific event has left its mark on the world. With different books, documentaries, movies, and other primary sources that show what happened during this time, people have been able to see the horrors of the situation, learn about the lesser-known facts of it all, see what the appalling enemies' plans and intentions were, and more.

Israel and Jewish Communities Remembering

In Hebrew, Holocaust Remembrance Day is translated to Yom HaShoah, and it is celebrated on days different from International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is appointed by the United Nations (UN). Yom HaShoah is also different from International Holocaust Day, which other countries acknowledge. It is recognized mainly in Israel and by many Jewish people

worldwide, specifically for how the Israeli community and religion practice their traditions of remembering. Yom HaShoah will begin on the evening of May 5 and end on May 6 in 2024 because it corresponds to the 27th day of Nisan on the Hebrew calendar.[3]

As an Israeli national holiday, certain ceremonies and detailed traditions occur for Yom HaShoah. One annual tradition held in Israel is the torch-lighting ceremony. During the official remembrance ceremony that takes place at Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, in Israel, six torches representing the six million Jews who were executed are lit by Holocaust survivors. The personal stories of the torchlighters reflect the central theme for that year chosen by Yad Vashem.[4] Every year, there is a new theme selected surrounding the events of the Holocaust or the Jewish community as a whole. For 2024, the theme is “A Lost World: The Destruction of the Jewish Communities.” This year’s theme gives the general message about how, during the German takeover, Jewish communities were separated and isolated from each other as part of the German policies that they required. It is not in the Jewish community’s nature to not consider themselves a whole. They want to care for each other, communicate, and be one whole community. This was taken from them.[5]

Another annual tradition on this day is for everyone to pause what they are doing when the alarms sound throughout the country at 10 A.M. Everyone will take two minutes of silence to remember the Holocaust victims as the alarm rings. Even people driving will pull over on the side of the road, stand outside of their cars, and recognize the two minutes of silence with the alarms before proceeding on their journeys. As a national holiday in Israel, many businesses are closed, and the law does not allow companies of public entertainment to be open the evening and the day of Yom HaShoah.[6] 

The United States Remembering Holocaust Victims

International Holocaust Remembrance Day (or International Day in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust) was designated with the passage of  Resolution 60/7 by the UNGA on November 1, 2005.[7] This day of remembrance does not correspond to the Hebrew calendar like Yom HaShoah does. On this day, countries around the world, including the United States, acknowledge and remember the Holocaust victims with their ceremonies or traditions.

To clarify, there is also the Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust (DRVH), appointed by the United States Congress. This eight-day period typically occurs in either April or May, depending on which days Yom HaShoah begins that year. The DRVH period begins the Sunday before Yom HaShoah begins. As we are acknowledging International Holocaust Remembrance Day (the UN-appointed date), it is still important to recognize other Holocaust-recognizing holidays as well because there are several.

The UN will hold its memorial ceremony at the UN General Assembly Hall at 11 A.M. on Friday, January 26, 2024, the day before International Holocaust Remembrance Day. There will be a live broadcast of the ceremony for those who will not be physically present (watch here). Joining the ceremony will be Holocaust survivors, the president of the 78th session of the UNGA, the Permanent Representative of Israel, and more. This ceremony will be more of an international coming together of members of the UN and people who are encouraging education and teaching of the Holocaust while also remembering those who lost their lives, giving thanks to the liberators during that time, and honoring the survivors.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is located in Washington, D.C. Every year, typically in April, since 1982, the museum has held its Days of Remembrance ceremony. However, when the Covid pandemic broke out, the museum created videos to replace the ceremony. In 2023, the museum started holding its in-person commemoration again while offering a live stream option (watch here). With Holocaust survivors, members of Congress, White House officials, community leaders, and many more in attendance, this ceremony is held to acknowledge the Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust (DRVH) commemoration. The United States Congress has designated this DRVH period because it is an opportunity for people to learn about the Holocaust properly. This ceremony is held in April because, in April of 1945, the American and Allied Troops liberated Nazi death camps, according to former President Ronald Reagan in his April 1981 speech at the White House.[8] 

As we take the time to learn more about the Holocaust, remember those who are no longer with us due to this tragedy, and honor the brave survivors, it is important to remember that education on this topic is a sensitive but essential one for everyone to understand. The anti-semitic acts of the Nazis were an evil occurrence, and it should never be forgotten.

Click here for some free activities and teaching resources from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to help instructors teach their students about the Holocaust and its victims.

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[1] “International Holocaust Remembrance Day.” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Accessed 18 Jan. 2024.

[2] “Frequently Asked Questions about the Holocaust for Educators.” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Accessed 5 Jan. 2024.

[3] “Remembrance Day Calendar.” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Accessed 18 Jan. 2024.

[4] Yad Vashem: The World Holocaust Remembrance Center . “Torchlighters.” Yad Vashem: The World Holocaust Remembrance Center, Accessed 18 Jan. 2024.

[5] Yad Vashem: The World Holocaust Remembrance Center. “A Lost World: The Destruction of the Jewish Communities.” Yad Vashem, Accessed 19 Jan. 2024.

[6] Tourist Israel: The Guide. “Yom HaShoah in Israel. April 17-18, 2023 - Tourist Israel.” Tourist Israel: The Guide, Accessed 22 Jan. 2024.

[7] Wikipedia. “International Holocaust Remembrance Day.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 17 Jan. 2024,

[8] Wikipedia. “Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 23 Feb. 2023,,Nazi%20death%20camps.%20...


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