As the world honored International Holocaust Remembrance Day today, global leaders spoke out to remind their communities that the lessons of the Shoah must not be forgotten.
Ceremonies were held across the globe, notably in Poland and Germany, where much of the crux of the Holocaust’s worst atrocities took place. A 95-year-old Shoah survivor was the keynote speaker at an event in Germany’s parliament, while German President Joachim Gauck led his government in a moment of silence.
Meanwhile, a delegation of Israeli lawmakers, including 58 Knesset members, gathered at Auschwitz today to hold a session at the notorious concentration camp.
“The symbolism could not be any more striking – mere meters away from the gas chambers where millions of Jews were once murdered, will meet the representatives of the parliament of the Jewish State of Israel,” said Jonny Daniels, executive director of From the Depths, the Jewish group organizing the initiative.
The Israeli leaders were joined by a US delegation, led by House majority leader Eric Cantor, the first Jew to ever hold the position. And some 23 lawmakers from 10 European nations were also in attendance.
“We honor every one of those brutally murdered in the darkest period of European history,” said EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton. “It is an occasion to remind us all of the need to continue fighting prejudice and racism in our own time.”
Israeli President Shimon Peres published his own video message to the world today, saying, “The Holocaust lies upon the human annals as the greatest shame ever humanity experienced. It’s more than a shame: It’s a greatest warning to all of us.”
And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took the occasion to warn that the Jewish community still faces threats, most notably from the Iranian regime, which “undermines the foundations of Western civilization which is supposed to fight for our rights and for the rights of others. We have to struggle against efforts to deny the legitimacy of the Jewish state and to demand our rights here.”