The Days of Remembrance display at Swanson Amphitheater was organized to remember the 22 million lives lost under the Nazi regime during World War II.
“It started with a student who was concerned with a lack of Holocaust awareness on campus a couple years back,” Perley said.
Perley described the difference between “genocide” and “Holocaust”: “Genocide is the general term to describe a mass killing of people, and it’s basically a destruction of a way of life. The Holocaust, it’s a capital ‘H’ Holocaust, is referring to just the World War II event.”
The flags were too numerous to count just by looking, but the total number was intentional. “So, exactly, there’s 2,222 flags. There are supposed to be 2,220, because each flag represents 10,000 individuals,” Perley said, adding that the additional two flags account for possible statistical underestimation.
Perley described the memorial from the center to its edges. He said that the yellow flags represent the six million Jewish lives taken. Red and white checkered flags stand for Russian civilians, estimated at 5.7 million people. Working out from the center, solid red flags represent Russian P.O.W.s.
“Then you have the white and blue checkered flags after that; there was 1.8 million, and those included Polish elites, a large population of Polish Catholics, and really just any resistance from the country of Poland. Poland, in fact, lost 16 percent of its entire population during World War II.”
Perley continued by saying that the green flags represented Serbian lives taken by the Nazis and that the orange flags represent disabled Germans. “There were a lot of Germans with disabilities, and the Nazis wanted the ‘perfect’ Aryan race, so to say, and they got rid of anyone who didn’t fit into that cookie cutter image,” Perley said.
“The black, that is actually the Roma, a lot of people know them as ‘gypsies.’ That is actually a very politically incorrect way to refer to them. They are referred to as ‘Roma;’ that is the politically inclusive and correct way to refer to them,” Perley said.
The white flags represent Germans who resisted and died due to the Nazis. “Right when the Nazi Party took over Germany, they started getting rid of everyone who opposed them, and that’s what these white flags are. It’s white because of the White Rose. The White Rose was a group of students who actually subversively tried to fight Hitler and his regime through media, through pamphlets and anything like that,” Perley said.
In the front of the display, the pink flags represent the LGBTQ people who were killed as a result of Nazi rule, and the purple flag represents Jehovah’s Witnesses whose lives were taken.
UCC’s Charles Young was mentioned by Perley as a good on-campus source for information on the Holocaust, and he stressed the importance of finding credible online sources. Students can contact Perley or Marjane Coester in the LaVerne Murphy Student Center for questions or issues about the display.