The International Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD), marks the day that Auschwitz-Birkenau – the largest Nazi death camp – was liberated in 1945. It seeks to remember the lives of the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, along with the millions of others killed under the Nazi regime and in the later genocides in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, and Darfur. The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust encourages remembrance on this international day, but also fights to resist genocide in every waking day.
Their theme for this year, 78 years after Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated, is “Ordinary People,” making the observation that every single agent – perpetrator, bystander, rescuer, victim – was no different than you or I. And it is here that the significance of a Remembrance Day, of trusts like the HMDT, and collections like USF’s Library’s Special Collection, Holocaust & Genocide Studies, becomes especially important. To learn about the past is to inform the choices that we as ordinary people make.
One such “ordinary person” is featured in our collection: Mejer Ginzburg, a doctor from Warsaw. He was imprisoned for two years in the Vilna Ghetto, then endured a year at a labor camp in Estonia. With no trace of his family, he was left to pick up the pieces of what was his once-ordinary life. In a story map here, compiled by Terry Eagan and Dr. Amanda Boczar, you can find some of the primary resources detailing Dr. Ginzburg’s life that we have here in the collection.
The linked story map details the effect of war on society in the 20th century and concisely previews our collections in each area, as well as further research done by personnel in Special Collections. For more scholarship specifically on our Holocaust & Genocide Studies collection, you can find further details on rare publications, oral histories, and handwritten testimonies here.