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International Holocaust Remembrance Day - January 27, 2024

2024 Theme: Recognizing the Extraordinary Courage of Victims and Survivors of the Holocaust

On January 27, 1945, Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration camp, was liberated. The United Nations has designated January 27 to commemorate the deaths of six million Jews and 11 million others. This year's theme, "Recognizing the Extraordinary Courage of Victims and Survivors of the Holocaust," pays tribute to the bravery of all those who stood up to the Nazis, despite the grave risks.

Resistance to Nazi dehumanization took many forms. The story of Friedl Dicker-Brandeis illustrates this clearly. Dorit Weiserová was one of 15,000 Jewish children imprisoned in Terezín ghetto-camp by the Nazis. The Nazis also incarcerated the elderly, war veterans, and prominent Jewish artists, writers, composers, musicians, academics at Terezín. Dorit was taught by an Jewish artist and educator, Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, who brought art materials with her when she was deported to Terezín. Dicker-Brandeis, along with other adult inmates, courageously resisted the Nazi intent to dehumanize the children. Through clandestine classes, the children were reminded of their ability to create and to imagine. In an increasingly dark and dangerous world, the children were given hope.

Tragically, most of the children did not survive the Holocaust. Dorit was one of the children who did not survive after being deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau German Nazi Concentration Camp. Dicker-Brandeis, too, did not survive. In a last act of defiance after being deported, Dicker-Brandeis hid much of the art the children had created. As a result, thousands of drawings and paintings survived the war. They remain vivid testimonies to courage and resistance against dehumanization.

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Title of the painting is Flowering meadow with butterflies by Dorit Weiserová (1932–1944). Copyright: The Jewish Museum in Prague.

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