The European Jewish Congress (EJC) and the European Parliament will hold the first ever official annual International Holocaust Remembrance Day Event in Brussels on the 22nd January. The entrance of this event into the official European Union calendar is due to the cooperation and coordination between the EJC and the European Parliament President Martin Schulz.
Dr. Moshe Kantor, the president of the European Jewish Congress, will open the event. “I am delighted that, with our partners in the European Parliament, we have managed to place such an important event on the official EU calendar,” Kantor said. “Holocaust memorialisation is a massive undertaking, not least in a time when Holocaust survivors are becoming fewer and anti-Semitism and intolerance is rising.”
“Furthermore, with the political gains of the far-right and neo-Nazi parties in European parliaments, the fact that this event is warmly embraced by the most prominent European institutions sends a strong message against hate, racism and anti-Semitism.”
Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, the host of the event will also speak, along with Mr Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the European Commission and Mr Alan Shatter, Irish Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Dr. Samuel Pisar, Honorary Ambassador and Special Envoy of UNESCO for Holocaust and genocide education and Prof Władysław Bartoszewski, Polish Secretary of State and the Plenipotentiary of the Prime Minister for International Dialogue.
“I am deeply touched that we are commemorating the International Holocaust Remembrance Day in the European Parliament once more, a location that is highly symbolic of peace and reconciliation between former arch-enemies,“ President Schulz said about the event. “It is an honour for the institution that I lead to mark this day in such a dignified manner.”
“The Holocaust must always be fresh in our minds and souls, in the conscience of humanity, and should serve as an incontrovertible warning for all time, Never again!"
The theme of the event is a tribute to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising fighters, whose struggle took place 70 years ago, and Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg who saved thousands of Jews during the Holocaust. A new Raoul Wallenberg room will be inaugurated by Ms Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs.
The event will be attended by MEP’s, ambassadors to the European Union and other high-level dignitaries; Holocaust survivors and members of Raoul Wallenberg’s family.
Dr. Kantor will say at the event that more needs to be done to combat racism and intolerance and will draw a parallel between the situation today and the 1920’s and 30’s before the rise of Nazism. “From the late 1920’s all the way through to the gas chambers of Auschwitz, most of Europe chose to excuse the fact that populations facing economic hardship could be bought off by scapegoating minorities, by turning inwards to the hatred of the other,” Kantor said. “This all sounds too familiar.”
“Today, amid economic turbulence on this continent, national parliaments contain increasing numbers of racists and anti-Semites. And it is to the immense shame of all of us that this European Parliament also contains such people.”