January 27, 2015
ATLANTA – Representative John Yates (R-Griffin) sponsored House Resolution 48 recognizing January 27, 2015, as International Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Georgia Capitol. The Georgia Commission on the Holocaust was invited to be recognized by the House of Representatives and honor six Georgians who were witnesses to the liberation of Nazi camps in Europe between January and May of 1945. The Commission was also joined by Consul General of Israel to the Southeast Opher Aviran.
January 27th, 2015, marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. The date was designated in 2005 by the United Nations General Assembly as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The Holocaust was the state-sponsored, systematic persecution and annihilation of European Jewry by Nazi Germany and its collaborators between 1933 and 1945. According to the Nazi ideology of racial supremacy, Jews were the primary targets. However, many other groups were also selected for imprisonment and murder for racial, ethnic or national reasons; Roma and Sinti, people with mental and physical disabilities, Poles, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Soviet prisoners of war, and political dissidents. The Nazi-established camp system was a product of this mission. The first camp, Dachau, was established in March of 1933, just two months after Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany. The subsequent camps established throughout occupied Europe ranged in purpose from transit and internment to forced labor and death.
The soldiers present for the liberation of these camps, many of whom were in their late teens or early twenties, took years to process what they had experienced. Those memories and the responsibility to bear witness stayed with them for the rest of their lives. These men not only fulfilled their duty to their country but to their fellow man.
The veterans honored by the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust include:
• George Aigen of Valdosta, not present
• Frank Benson of Loganville, represented by his wife Edith Benson
• identical twins Howard Margol of Sandy Springs and Hilbert Margol of Dunwoody
• William Alexander Scott III of Atlanta, represented by his daughter Alexis Scott
• Representative John P. Yates of Griffin
These men are also profiled in a new installment in the Commission’s exhibit series “Georgia’s Response to the Holocaust.” This new panel titled “Witnesses to Liberation,” is currently on preview at the Commission sponsored Anne Frank in the World: 1929-1945 exhibit in Sandy Springs. The exhibit series examines how individuals and organizations in Georgia responded during the Holocaust and how citizens and lawmakers recognize the important role Holocaust education plays in cultivating the ability to make good choices, develop strong character and promote engaged citizenship.
The Georgia Commission on the Holocaust is a state agency administratively attached to the Secretary of State. Georgia is one of only 13 states to have a Holocaust Commission.
Executive Director, Sally N. Levine, remarked during the presentation following the reading of the Resolution, “The Holocaust happened because individuals, organizations and governments made choices that not only legalized discrimination but also allowed prejudice, hatred and ultimately, mass murder to occur. The history of the Holocaust demands that we reflect upon the moral questions raised by this unprecedented event and examine our responsibilities as citizens in a democracy.”