January 27 – Giorno della Memoria (International Holocaust Memorial Day)

Today is “Giorno della Memoria” here in Italia.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day, 27 January, is an international memorial day for the victims of the Holocaust, the genocide that resulted in the annihilation of 6 million Jews, 2 million Gypsies (Roma and Sinti), 15,000 homosexual people and millions of others by the Naziregime and its collaborators. It was designated by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 60/7 on 1 November 2005 during the 42nd plenary session.[1] The resolution came after a special session was held earlier that year on 24 January 2005 during which the United Nations General Assembly marked the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps and the end of the Holocaust.[2]

On 27 January 1945, the largest Nazi death camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau, was liberated by Soviet troops.

The Holocaust Remembrance Day is also a national event in the United Kingdom and in Italy.

Lest we forget, I wanted to take today to respectfully share some photographs that were taken by my Nonno during WWII. My Nonno (my grandfather) was a first generation Sicilian-American, whose parents immigrated from Bauso, Sicily, to Boston in the early 1900s to escape poverty.

In July of 1944, he was sent to Normandy to join up with the 826th Engineer Aviation Battalion and was sent to build airstrips along the front. This selection of photos is from a set of prints, taken by my grandfather, that follows the push into France, “the Bulge” in the Ardennes region, and the drive into northern Germany via Kassel. Please note there are also some graphic photos of the liberation of Buchenwald concentration camp. The original, complete set on Flickr is accessible here, but keep in mind that in order to view all of the photos you must adjust your safety settings to allow for graphic content.

I’m sharing them because they really should be shared. One of my readers today sent me a link to a shocking video illustrating just how little about the Holocaust is being taught in public schools in America. I couldn’t believe that some of the kids interviewed didn’t know anything. That’s not their fault, clearly. They have to be taught to remember history. I believe that these photos do very little good in a shoebox, so here they are. If anyone has any questions or recognizes any of the soldiers in the photos, please leave a comment or get in touch with me.

men of the

men of the 826 Engineer Aviation Battalion

These are some of the men of the 826th Engineer Aviation Battalion. The name labels in this photo of do not correspond to the order of the men, and I am only certain of a few of them.

  • Lieutenant Klevin (possible misspelling for Lt Kelvin?)
  • Captain Kessel
  • Lieutenant. Colonel Carroll
  • Captain Martin
  • Chaplain Henry
  • Major Albert R Sellers
  • (misspelled) Captain Lawrence Louis Salzberg
  • Captain Weed (possible mistake for Capt Clarence B Wood?)
  • 1st Lieutenant Carl F Wiesen
  • Captain Kaplan
  • Lieutenant Tonenga

Then my grandfather is the second from the right, standing. The identified names are from the website for the IX Engineer Command – hereThe few whose faces I know are because they appear in other labeled photographs in this set.

This photo was not labeled, but looks very similar to several other photos taken near one of their camps in Ochey, France.

Nonno near Ochey(?)

Nonno near Ochey(?)

Some of the photos from the construction of air strips and maintenance of planes:

Some photos of the destruction and devastation from bombing:

And, lest we forget, the liberation of Buchenwald concentration camp in April 1945:

If you would like some good resources on how to teach about the Holocaust, please see here:

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