Yom HaShoah (Yom HaShoa, Yom HaZikaron laShoah ve-laGvura) officially translates to "Remembrance Day for the Holocaust and Heroism", but is often known as "Holocaust Remembrance Day" in English. It is an occasion to commemorate the lives and heroism of the six million Jewish people who died in the Holocaust between 1933 and 1945. Yom HaShoah is on the 27th day of Nisan, the first month of the ecclesiastical year in the Jewish calendar.
Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist German Workers Party, which he led, placed a lot of importance on their ideas of racial hygiene. They believed that it was possible to create a pure race of supreme German people using selective breeding techniques applied in agriculture. They wished to eliminate certain groups of people, who were seen as racially impure, from Germany. These included: Jewish people; the Roma; certain groups of people from Poland and Russia; Jehovah's Witnesses; disabled persons; homosexuals; and Communists. The removal of Jewish people from German society was particularly well-planned and was referred to as the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question". About 11 million people, of whom about six million were Jewish, died mainly in death and concentration camps.
It was originally proposed to hold Holocaust Remembrance Day on the 14th day of Nisan, the first month of the ecclesiastical year in the Jewish calendar. This is the anniversary of the ghetto uprising in Warsaw, which occurred on April 19, 1943, in the Gregorian calendar. However, the 14th day of Nisan is the day before the start of Passover (Pesach) and the 27th day was chosen instead. This is eight days before Israel's Independence Day (Yom Ha'atzma'ut). Holocaust Remembrance Day has been observed in Israel since 1959. The date of Yom HaShoah may be moved forward or backwards, so that it does not fall on Friday or Saturday.
Yom HaShoah is not universally recognized or observed. Some groups remember the victims of the Holocaust on other days of mourning, many of which predate World War II. Examples are the ninth day of the month of Av, known as Tisha B'Av and which falls in July of August of the Gregorian calendar, and the 10th day of the month of Tevet, known as Asarah b'Tevet and which falls in December or January of the Gregorian calendar. Other groups criticize the day because it does not commemorate the lives of non-Jewish people who died in the Holocaust.