To honour the upcoming International Holocaust Remembrance Day, MEPs held a ceremony in the Parliament on Wednesday together with representatives from Jewish communities in Europe and other dignitaries. Referring to the Holocaust as “the worst tragedy in European history”, Parliament President Antonio Tajani said: “Remembering is not only an act of commemoration. It is a crucial process if we want to avoid repeating the same errors.”
Tajani expressed concerns over Europe’s shrinking Jewish population and the persistence of crimes against Jews. He added: “Remembering the terrible mistakes of the past gives us the possibility to remind ourselves that Europe has always been able to draw lessons from history for a future based on freedom, democracy and respect for human dignity.”
Dr Moshe Kantor, the president of the European Jewish Congress, said: “We, European Jews, want to remain in Europe and be loyal to it as we have always been. We count on Europe to continue to show its loyalty to us, loyalty to the idea that the Jews have a future here in Europe.”
Beate Klarsfeld, who investigated the crimes of Nazis and helped to bring them to justice, spoke about Germany’s transformation in the years that followed the Holocaust into “a new nation, a new country, a new soul”. The Unesco ambassador for education about the Holocaust also warned about re-emerging racism and xenophobia in response to the migration crisis: “Each of us must therefore be vigilant and commit to civic engagement.”
Also attending the ceremony were former British prime minister Tony Blair, who presides the European Council for Tolerance and Reconciliation, and Russian film director Andrei Konchalovsky, who was awarded a medal for his cinematographic work against extremism and intolerance.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day is commemorated every year on 27 January as on that day in 1945 Soviet troops liberated the Auschwitz extermination camp.