Holocaust Remembrance Day remembered Wednesday

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CHICAGO – Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day which due to the ongoing pandemic will be remembered virtually this year in ceremonies across the Nation. It marks the 76th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Earlier this morning, President Biden said the Holocaust was brought on by hate-fueled laws and was no accident of history.

“The Holocaust was no accident of history. It occurred because too many governments cold-bloodedly adopted and implemented hate-fueled laws, policies, and practices to vilify and dehumanize entire groups of people, and too many individuals stood by silently. Silence is complicity.” Biden said in a White House statement. “The United States will continue to champion justice for Holocaust survivors and their heirs.”

Locally, the Illinois Holocaust Museum honored the day Tuesday evening with the story of Renia Spiegal, a 14-year-old who documented the rise of the Nazi Party in Poland.  

The Diary, which began while Spiegal was a student in Middle School, was translated from native Polish for the first time in 2018 and highlights the Nazi invasion along with the deportation, imprisonment, and murder of Jews in cities like Przemsyl, where Spiegal lived. 

The book holds poetry and stories of love, along with the horrors of war.

“Oh, God! My God! We’ve been on the road for three days now. Przemysl was attacked. We had to flee.” Spiegal wrote in a September 10th, 1939 entry in the diary documenting attacks on Poland. “We left the burning city in the middle of the night on foot, carrying our bags. Granny stayed behind. Lord, please protect her. We heard on the road that Przemysl was being destroyed.” 

And later Spiegal, documenting Nazi celebrations in her country.

“Today is the Führer’s birthday. I want to scream with all my might.” Spiegal wrote in an entry three years later on April 20th, 1942. “Today I was really ready to strangle him, but what would I do then?” Renia was later killed in the holocaust. Her diary was kept safe inside of a safe deposit box before finally being published.

You can read the full translated diary of Renia Spiegal for yourself here or purchase a copy on Amazon. 

The Illinois Holocaust Museum will reopen to the public next month and offer free admission beginning February 3rd and on Wednesdays through March.

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