When Federal President Roman Herzog declared the day of the liberation of the Auschwitz extermination camp by the Soviet Army a national day of remembrance for all victims of National Socialism in 1999, the skepticism in anti-fascist circles could not be overlooked. In this way, should the commemoration be focused solely on the Jewish victims of the extermination policy? Should this replace May 8th as a day of remembrance for the liberation from fascism and war? Shouldn’t such a “state decreed” day of remembrance rather show foreign countries a willingness to deal appropriately with historical memory?
In a comprehensive statement, formulated requirements so that this day of remembrance could contribute to a historically appropriate reminder: January 27, 1945 must be understood in the context of January 30, 1933, the deeds, the perpetrators and the beneficiaries of the crimes must not be forgotten, the breadth of resistance and persecution must become clear, the liberation share of the Allies, among them the Soviet Union, must become part of the public memory, May 8, 1945 must not be devalued in its significance as the anniversary of the liberation.
After five years of political practice, we can state that January 27th has established itself in society as a day of remembrance, on which not only the Jewish persecuted is remembered. In addition to the official circles, various anti-fascist initiatives, history workshops, social forces, among them the district associations, have shown how this day can be used to commemorate all those persecuted by the Nazi regime with actions in public or with events, to document the establishment and reality of fascist rule and to remember those who opposed fascism. This is a dignified way of dealing with this “government-ordained” day of remembrance.