The International Holocaust Remembrance Day, or the International Day in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, is marked every year on January 27, under a resolution endorsed by the United Nations in 2005. In 1945, on January 27, Allied forces liberated the largest Nazi extermination camp, in Auschwitz-Birkenau, Poland.
According to historians, the Holocaust resulted in the killing of 6 million Jewish people in Europe and millions of other ethnics by Germany’s Nazi regime. Events and activities are organised on this day every year at the UN headquarters in New York and UN offices around the world. This year’s theme is “Home and Belonging.” In 2022, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution tabled by Israel, calling on all countries to condemn Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism, especially on social networks, Radio Romania International reports.
MP Vexler: Suffering of all those who were killed during the Holocaust must remain a fundamental source of motivation for each of us, an example of dignity and hope
The suffering of all those who were killed during the Holocaust and the voice of Holocaust survivors must remain “a fundamental source of motivation for each of us” and an example of “dignity and hope”, the president of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Romania, deputy Silviu Vexler (photo) declared on Friday.
“History is never an accident or a coincidence. We cannot erase the past, no matter how hard we try and no matter how much we would like to do it. The past and especially the lessons it offers can be the energy we need to move forward, to build the future and sometimes, just sometimes, we have to keep the pain in order to be able to find hope. For days like this, before anything else, we have an obligation to understand that every decision we make has consequences, but above all we have to build the life that the victims of the Holocaust did not manage to enjoy,” said Vexler at an event dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust, organized by the Federation of Jewish Communities in Romania at the Choral Temple.
He added that he is worried when he sees how attempts are being made at “rewriting history and reversing values”.
“Names like Ion Antonescu, Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, Nicolae Macici, Mircea Vulcanescu, Radu Gyr and others are, or better said, attempts are being made sometimes at transforming them from war criminals, from the authors of moral crimes into national heroes. With all the attempts to give them such an aura, they will remain only what they were: criminals, not martyrs, and certainly not saviors. Only criminals. Similarly, although there is a pursuit in the construction of a false mythology, the Legionary Movement remains a fascist and terrorist organization whose defining event is assassination and perhaps there is no better example than the pogrom in Bucharest,” said Vexler.
He mentioned that, fortunately, “the truth is immune to fabrications”, and those mentioned, for the deeds they committed, were and remain condemned.
PM Ciuca: The toxic attitudes of anti-Semitism, extremism and hate speech, increasingly present in public space must be sanctioned
The hard lesson of the Holocaust reminds us every time what happens when the majority does not take a stand against individuals or groups that promote “poisonous ideas for society”, on Friday said premier Nicolae Ciuca, adding that anti-Semitism, extremism and hate speech are increasingly present in public space and these “toxic attitudes” must be sanctioned.
“Today, we pay a pious tribute to all the victims of the Holocaust and remember one of the most terrible pages in history, when hatred, barbarism and crime reduced humanity to silence and destroyed the destinies of millions of innocent people. We mark together the 78 years of at the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp in an emblematic place for the Jewish community in Romania, which witnessed the brutal attacks on the Jews during the Bucharest Pogrom of January 1941. January 27, 1945 marked the end of the heinous crime wave and horrors of the Holocaust, yet also representing the beginning of a world marked forever by this guilt. At the same time, mankind has assumed the mission of restoring hope in humanity and in fundamental values, as well as incessantly honoring the memory of the victims and to support the survivors,” premier Ciuca said at an event dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust, organized by the Federation to the Jewish Communities from Romania at the Choral Temple in Bucharest.
“But we must not forget those brave Romanians who, as Elie Weisel said, risked their own lives and saved the honour of their nation, opposing the oppression and killing of their citizens,” Ciuca added.
The prime minister recalled that the Romanian state started the process of assuming the Holocaust two decades ago, and “the progress made in the field of memory policies, education and research about the Holocaust and the fight against anti-Semitism are remarkable”.
“Also, important steps have been taken to create the National Museum of the History of the Jews and the Holocaust in Romania. At the center of these efforts is the constant support of the Jewish community in our country and the valorization of the Jewish heritage, which is an integral part of the national culture, objectives that will continue to occupy a priority place on the agenda of the Executive that I lead,” Nicolae Ciuca stressed.
According to the prime minister, “the fight for the defense of fundamental values, for the consolidation of a resilient and inclusive society is a permanent one, because anti-Semitism, extremism and hate speech are increasingly present in the public space”.
“We remain vigilant and take a stand against these demonstrations and those who continue to praise war criminals. We cannot allow history to be distorted or the Holocaust to be minimized. We have the necessary tools to defend our democracy, and all responsible authorities must carry out their mission. Toxic attitudes must be sanctioned, and the legislation must be consistently applied. Also, promoting education, critical thinking and knowledge of history in an authentic way, without idealization, are a priority,” Ciuca said.
He emphasized that he encourages local authorities to organize actions and demonstrations dedicated to the Holocaust, showing that commemorations and memorial projects must be present in the public space.
Senate’s Gorghiu: Anti-Semitism, xenophobia and racism are still current dangers
Acting President of the Senate Alina Gorghiu stated on Friday that the Holocaust must not be forgotten, noting that anti-Semitism, xenophobia and racism are still current dangers, which must be firmly countered and politicians are not allowed to be “apathetic”.
“The International Holocaust Remembrance Day is one of the most important moments, when we remember what human rights, democratic values, the idea of humanity in general mean, and we need to talk about the Holocaust as a warning,” Gorghiu said at an event dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust, organized by the Federation of Jewish Communities of Romania at the Choral Temple.
She emphasized the importance of the Jewish community in Romania, evoking the history of the Coral Temple, which “testifies to the injustices” faced by this community.
“The Jewish community continues to be one of the most important communities in Romania. In Romania, its history will be compulsory in schools. Moreover, we will have a National Museum of Jewish History and the Holocaust in Romania and there is a national, but also European strategy for the fight against anti-Semitism. If the Nazis reduced people to numbers, then we must bring back to the foreground the victims, the survivors, their descendants, all those who carry forward the memory of the Holocaust,” added Gorghiu.
“Disinformation and negationism exist in various forms in Europe. Many fall into their trap.This is where hate speech and, ultimately, violence are born. Anti-Semitism, xenophobia and racism are still current dangers. Politics must not be apathetic. If we do not firmly oppose them, our society and all of us will suffer,” maintained Gorghiu.
JusMin Predoiu: Commitment to the ongoing fight against negative discrimination and intolerance is renewed every day
On January 27, the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Justice Minister Catalin Predoiu said that the commitment to the ongoing fight against negative discrimination and intolerance is renewed every day.
“Today, as we mark the 78th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi concentration camp, we remember and honour the millions of victims of the Holocaust. I would like to express my deepest sympathy to all those who suffered as a result of the Holocaust, as well as my admiration for all those who fought and continue to fight for the triumph of reason and tolerance over prejudice. On this day, as every day, we commemorate the Holocaust and renew our commitment to the ongoing fight against negative discrimination and intolerance,” Predoiu is quoted as saying in a Justice Ministry press release.
Moreover, in the current international context marked by a worrying growth in extremism, intolerance and radicalisation, the Justice Ministry is paying attention to hate speech and hate crimes and, more broadly, the fight against racism and anti-Semitism, added Predoiu.
He said that as early as 2020 he requested the Supreme Council of Magistrates and the Attorney General to review the provisions of Article 369 of the Criminal Code (incitement to hatred) and other crimes which fall under Ordinance 31/2002, to be taken into account when drawing up the annual continuing professional training plans for the magistrates.
The ministry also participated in the development of the National Strategy for the Prevention and Combat of Anti-Semitism (2021).
Predoiu added that the ministry initiated steps to organise a hate crime training programme for Romanian magistrates jointly with German partners.
“The collaboration was carried out through the German Foundation for International Co-operation (IRZ) with support from the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection. So far, applied discussions have taken place between the beneficiary institutions in Romania (the attorney general and the National Institute of the Magistrates, facilitated by the Justice Ministry for the presentation of the training needs at the level of the judiciary.”
Predoiu added that the Justice Ministry has “actively” supported international co-operation regarding Holocaust education, research and remembrance, with Romania being one of the first eight countries to sign the Vienna Declaration on enhancing cooperation in fighting Anti-Semitism and encouraging reporting of antisemitic incidents as part of a European conference on anti-Semitism.
“We actually supported, at all JHA meetings, the European initiatives initiated to combat anti-Semitism and hate speech. We consider that this way we truly honour the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and reward the survivors,” says Predoiu.
Head of EC Representation in Bucharest: Combating anti-Semitism in EU, a shared responsibility
The Head of the European Commission Representation in Bucharest, Ramona Chiriac, said on Friday that it is “a shared responsibility” to combat anti-Semitism in the EU, considering that the Holocaust is “a defining legacy of European history”.
The Representation of the European Commission in Romania hosted the event “Holocaust – Romania remembers”, to commemorate the Holocaust in Europe and in Romania, as well as for the knowledge of the historical truth, which is essential for the development of a society favorable to inclusion, equality and respect.
In the spirit of remembering this tragedy in the history of Europe, the special guest of the event was Octavian Fulop, aged 92, one of the few survivors of the Holocaust still alive in Romania, informed the Representation.
Fulop was interned in the camp at the age of 13 and a half, in April 1944, together with his whole family. He was imprisoned in Austria’s Melk, Mauthausen and Gunskirchen concentration camps, as well as in Auschwitz-Birkenau. He was released by the American army from the Gunskirchen camp.
Among the guests this event were Alexandru Muraru, special representative of the Romanian Government for the promotion of memory policies, combating anti-Semitism and xenophobia, Gabriela Ghindea, director of programs in the Mediterranean Basin and program director for the Raphael Lemkin Prevention Seminar of Genocide, global edition Auschwitz Institute and Irina-Dumitrita Solomon, secretary of state in the Prime Minister’s Chancellery, coordinator of the Interministerial Committee for monitoring the implementation of the National Strategy for preventing and combating anti-Semitism, xenophobia, radicalization and hate speech.
Other officials of the Romanian state also participated, as well as representatives of the diplomatic corps, representatives of the academic environment, students and representatives of civil society.
Compiled from Agerpres