European Jewish Congress
International Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony 2012
Preserving the Shoah memory
International Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony 2012

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On Tuesday, 24th January 2012, the Ceremony for the International Holocaust Remembrance Day was held in the European Parliament in Brussels. EJC together with Jewish and non-Jewish organisations organized it, in collaboration and under the patronage of Mr. Martin Schulz, the newly elected President of the European Parliament.

The ceremony began with ‘El Maleh Rahamim’, the Jewish prayer in memory of all the victims of the Holocaust, followed by the opening remarks of President Schulz, Dr. Moshe Kantor EJC President and speeches by Israel’s Minister Yuli Edelstein and the former President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek. The event gathered Members of the European Parliament, European Commissioners, Ms. Kristalina Georgieva and Mr. László Andor, Ambassadors, representatives of Jewish communities and many other distinguished guests.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Wannsee Conference, the meeting of Nazi officials which decided on the “Final Solution” and thus sealed the fate of six million European Jews, as well as, the 50th anniversary of the trial of Adolf Eichmann.

President Moshe Kantor called on Europe ‘to recognise evil and prevent its re-emergence’ and added: ‘if we don’t remember it, and don’t study it, and don’t learn about it, we cannot learn from it; we can never be confident (that) we can recognize it and stop its emergence in time’.

The event was marked by a moving testimony from Holocaust survivor Chana Bar-Yesha, who flew from Israel and by the presence of Mrs. Andrée Geulen-Herscovici, a Belgian ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ who saved around 4,000 Jewish children. The ceremony also featured a brilliant and touching performance by Mischa Maisky (cello) and his daughter Lily Maisky (piano) of ‘Kol Nidre’ by Max Bruch.

It is symbolic that this was the first event hosted by the new President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, who expressed that it was a great honour and privilege for him, as a German citizen and a son of a German soldier, who fought in the Second World War, to chair an assembly which represents 500 million Europeans. Schulz spoke of the responsibility of all Germans and of his first political goal, his first duty, which is to never let it happen again. Speaking of his nation Schulz said: ‘and whatever is happening in the world today of anti-Semitism, of action against the existence of the Jewish community, of the State of Israel (...), we are the first ones who have to defend our Jewish friends’.

Schulz made special mention of the presence of Justice Gabriel Bach at the event, the senior prosecutor in the Adolf Eichmann trial. Schulz stressed the significance of Justice Bach’s story that a small boy, kicked out of Germany by a SS officer, should go on to become an attorney of the democratic State of Israel, and end up prosecuting Adolf Eichmann in the High Court of Israel in 1961. Gabriel Bach addressed the audience and gave a remarkable speech, sharing with the audience his unique experience of the Eichmann trial.

The ceremony for the International Holocaust Remembrance Day was an essential opportunity to remember the atrocities of the Second World War and to honour the memory of all the victims. Only by remembering the past and reflecting on the lessons of history can we ensure that “Never Again” will such a crime be committed.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012
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