We mark the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, not the day it opened.
Imagine if it were otherwise. Imagine if someone were to propose commemorating the dead of the Holocaust on the 14th of June rather than the 27th of January, because it was a pleasant summer morning rather than a bitterly cold winter one when the first transport of prisoners was marched through the infamous “Arbeit Macht Frei” gates.
There would be revulsion, disbelief and horror at such a sick notion, and rightly so.
World War 1 killed ten times as many people as died in Auschwitz, and almost three times as many as were murdered in the entire Nazi extermination programme. For the past 94 years humanity has marked their deaths on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, because that moment in 1918 was when the guns of the Western Front finally fell silent. Yet a little under two years from now, that solemn tradition will be cast aside in favour of a lavish series of public events to be held not on the day the senseless slaughter ended, but on the day it began.
It’s hard to come up with a plausible or convincing reason why.