January 27, 2020
Day 27 of 366
January 27th is the twenty-seventh day of the year. It is the anniversary of the liberation of the remaining inmates at Auschwitz, including related commemorations.
In the United States, it is “celebrated” as National Chocolate Cake Day and National Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day. The latter is typically observed on the last Monday of January.
Historical items of note:
- In 1302, Dante Alighieri was exiled from Florence.
- In 1606, the trial of Guy Fawkes and other conspirators began. It ended with their execution on January 31st.
- In 1785, the University of Georgia was founded, becoming the first public university in the United States.
- In 1820, the Antarctic continent was discovered by a Russian expedition led by Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen and Mikhail Petrovich Lazarev.
- In 1825, the path for the forced relocation of Native American tribes was cleared by the approval of the Indian Territory in what is now Oklahoma. The relocation route became known as the “Trail of Tears”.
- In 1832, English novelist, poet, and mathematician Lewis Carroll was born.
- In 1880, Thomas Edison received a patent for his incandescent lamp.
- In 1900, Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, the Father of the Nuclear Navy, was born.
- In 1908, American journalist and publisher William Randolph Hearst, Jr. was born.
- In 1921, actress Donna Reed was born.
- In 1939, the Lockheed P-38 Lightning took flight for the first time.
- In 1940, actor James Cromwell was born.
- In 1943, the Eighth Air Force sortied ninety-one B-17s and B-24s to attack the U-boat construction yards at Wilhelmshaven, Germany. This marked the first American bombing attack on Germany.
- In 1944, the 900-day Siege of Leningrad was lifted.
- In 1956, actress Mimi Rogers was born.
- In 1957, illustrator, director, producer, and screenwriter Frank Miller was born.
- In 1965, actor Alan Cumming was born.
- In 1967, astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee were killed in the Apollo 1 fire at Kennedy Space Center. I commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of this tragedy in this post.
- Also in 1967, the Soviet Union, the United States, and the United Kingdom signed the Outer Space Treaty in Washington, D.C. This banned deployment of nuclear weapons in space, and limited use of the Moon and other celestial bodies to peaceful purposes.
- In 1970, the American movie rating system modified the “M” rating to “PG”.
- In 1973, the Paris Peace Accords officially ended the Vietnam War.
- In 1976, Laverne and Shirley premiered on ABC.
- In 1979, actress Rosamund Pike was born.
- In 2003, the first selections for the National Recording Registry were announced by the Library of Congress.
In 1945, the Soviet 322nd Rifle Division liberated the remaining inmates of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Auschwitz-Birkenau was a component of the larger Auschwitz complex that contained over 40 concentration and extermination camps during World War II. During the Nazi regime, the Auschwitz complex housed 1.3 million prisoners and murdered 1.1 million of them in the Holocaust.
At the time of the 1945 liberation, 7,500 prisoners and over 600 corpses we found. A collection of items were also found, including 837,000 women’s garments, 370,000 men’s suits, 44,000 pairs of shoes, and 7,000 kg of human hair. The Soviet war crimes commission estimated that these items belonged to 140,000 people.
Primo Levi, an Italian Jewish chemist who was in captivity during the liberation, noted the mood:
They did not greet us, nor did they smile; they seemed oppressed not only by compassion but by a confused restraint, which sealed their lips and bound their eyes to the funereal scene. It was that shame we knew so well, the shame that drowned us after the selections, and every time we had to watch, or submit to, some outrage: the shame the Germans did not know, that the just man experiences at another man’s crime; the feeling of guilt that such a crime should exist, that it should have been introduced irrevocably into the world of things that exist, and that his will for good should have proved too weak or null, and should not have availed in defence.
During the four years of the Holocaust (1941-1945), 6 million Jews and 11 million other victims of persecution were murdered by the Nazi regime and its collaborators.
To commemorate the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and the tragedy of the Holocaust, the day was designated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 60/7 on November 1, 2005 during the 42nd plenary session. The resolution came after a special session was held on January 24th to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation.
Countries around the world also observe Holocaust memorial days on different days.
The intent is to both remember those who were massacred as well as educating future generations of the horrors of the Holocaust.
To reject, in whole or in part, any denial of the Holocaust as a historical event.
To condemn religious intolerance, incitement, harassment, or violence based on ethnicity or religious belief no matter where they occur.
To paraphrase Resolution 60/7: To honor the courage and dedication shown by the soldiers who liberated the concentration camps and reaffirm that the murder of one-third of the Jewish people, along with countless members of other minorities, will forever be a warning to all people of the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice.
In two words: Never again.
The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.
For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.