SEMBACH, Germany – The United States commemorates the victims of Nazi atrocities every year during the Holocaust Days of Remembrance in April.
The theme this year was Determination, Hope and Honor. The Holocaust Days of Remembrance were observed this year from April 24 to May 1 with April 28 designated as Remembrance Day.
The event is commemorated in April each year because most of the concentration camps from World War II were liberated in April 1945.
This year 50 Soldiers, civilian employees and family members from U.S. Army NATO Brigade converged on Kaiserslautern, Germany April 29 to remember local victims of the Holocaust.
“For Holocaust Remembrance Day we went on a memorial walk in downtown Kaiserslautern to see the stumbling stone project,” said Sgt. Jacob Davis. “The project features brass plaques set in the pavement
with the names of local residents at the time who were victims of the Holocaust and gives a little bit of their life story.”
Davis said the event was particularly poignant for him because he has family members who were directly impacted by the Holocaust before and during World War II.
“It means a lot to see units and organizations take the time out of our busy days to go and remember those people, not just Jews, but Romani, homosexuals and people with mental illness,” said Davis. “So it was good to see us include a diverse thought culture here. Especially the fact that we take time to remember the Holocaust and remember what freedoms we have and what freedoms we continue to have.”
Sgt. 1st Class Ruben Avila, U.S. Army NATO Brigade equal opportunity advisor, and Staff Sgt. Daphne Pierre, the headquarters company equal opportunity leader, played key roles in organizing the event.
“For the holocaust observance day the EO team identified a few families that were affected by the holocaust,” said Pierre. “The names of these families here given to each team to complete research and find out what happened to the families.
“This day allowed Soldiers, civilians and families to take the time out of their busy schedule to remember the holocaust survivors and their loved ones who did not make it,” she said. “Each team was able to find the grid coordinate points for specific family’s stolperstein.
“Personally, I think the event went very well. We were able to connect with individuals we do not see or speak to on a daily basis. Everyone was able to have a teaching and learning moment about dangers of discrimination and hatred.”
Davis agreed with Pierre and added that the event gave participants the opportunity to reflect on Soldiers’ role in society.
“We had a good turnout,” said Davis. “We had a lot of people interested in learning more about the history behind the Holocaust and how we can do better, not just as the Army in equal opportunity and diversity, but as people.”