Keep the Memory Alive
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Auschwitz, a Nazi death camp, was liberated by Russian troops on 27th January 1945. They found 7,500 prisoners and about 600 corpses there, left behind when the Nazis evacuated the camp. 370,000 men’s suits, 837,000 items of women’s clothing and 7.7 tonnes of human hair also gave testimony to the systemic programme of genocide that had been carried out there. Some 1.1 million people, the vast majority of them Jews, were murdered by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Some Catholics who are now saints were killed there, too, most notably, Maximilian Kolbe and Edith Stein, along with her sister, Rosa.
Nostra Aetate is a ground breaking document of the Second Vatican Council. It radically changed what the Catholic Church teaches about Jews and Judaism. As a result, the Church readily acknowledges that the Jewish people remain very dear to God. It also teaches that Jews are not to be held responsible for the death of Jesus and that the Catholic Church “deplores all hatreds, persecutions and displays of anti-Semitism levelled at any time or from any source against the Jews”. Nostra Aetate became official Church teaching on 28th October, 1965.
The Bosnian Genocide took place from 1992 to 1995 when Serbs sought to cleanse ethnically Bosnia-Herzegovina of all non-Serbs. Serbian forces systematically killed 100,000 Bosniaks and Croats. The most infamous massacre took place at Srebenica when 7,000 Bosniak men were murdered on the orders of Serb General Ratko Mladic. It was the largest single act of genocide in Europe since the end of World War II. It is a poignant reminder that it really is important to ‘Keep the Memory Alive.’