Jean-Claude Juncker
Jean-Claude JunckerThe European Union

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, on Saturday released a statement in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“The 27th of January is a date marked in history by sorrow and grief. On this day 73 years ago, Allied Forces liberated the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau and brought the horrors perpetrated there to an end. To mark this event, we honor today the memories of the six million Jews and other victims who perished during the Holocaust. We also pay tribute to those who survived the Shoah, among them the first President of the European Parliament Simone Veil, who dedicated her life to reconciliation and who has sadly passed away this past year,” he wrote.

“2018 marks the 80th anniversary of the 'Reichspogromnacht' (Night of the Broken Glass) and the 80th anniversary of the introduction of racist laws in Fascist Italy. But 2018 also represents the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which grew out of the horrors of the Holocaust,” continued Juncker.

“This day should remind us to be vigilant in the face of hatred, discrimination and dehumanization. It is a day to confront those who spread lies about our history and who question the Holocaust or negate its fundamental meaning for today's Europe. As Simone Veil reminded us, it is necessary to recall the names and stories of those we have lost, to spare them from disappearing for a second time.”

“This is a day to firmly condemn hatred, bigotry and anti-Semitism in all its forms. We need to build a strong society that stands up for what is right. We need people to speak up and act when they see racist acts in public or when they hear anti-Semitic slogans on European streets as we have witnessed recently.”

“As the number of remaining Holocaust survivors decreases, we have a moral responsibility to ensure that their story remains part of Europe's collective memory, also for the young generations. The Commission will therefore strengthen our cooperation with international organizations working on Holocaust Remembrance, as also requested by the European Parliament. Holocaust education remains central to building up resilience against all forms of hatred in our European societies, and the European Parliament has provided a useful definition of anti-Semitism for better education and training.”

“Anti-Semitism is not only a threat for Jews but a fundamental menace to our open and liberal societies,” warned Juncker. “Remembering the atrocities of the Holocaust, this darkest chapter of modern European history, is essential for understanding the value of having a European Union today. It is to prevent these horrors that we founded a Union based on universal human rights, democracy, the rule of law and non-discrimination, and it is in the name of those values that we need to preserve it and constantly improve it.”

Austria's Chancellor Sebastian Kurz marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Saturday by recalling his country's "historic responsibility" in the genocide of Jews during World War II.

"Austrians were also actors and were associated with atrocious crimes of the Holocaust. We bear a clear historic responsibility that the new government clearly recognizes," he tweeted.

"Today, we commemorate the over six million victims of the Holocaust. It is our responsibility to continue the fight against all forms of anti-Semitism with all determination!"

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned of rising anti-Semitism in her country on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, calling the need to protect Jewish buildings "shameful."

It is important to remember the millions of Holocaust victims because "anti-Semitism, racism and the hatred of others are more relevant" recently, said the Chancellor, who added, "It is inconceivable and shameful that no Jewish institution can exist without police protection, whether it is a school, a kindergarten or a synagogue.”

On Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump issued a statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, condemning the murder of six million Jews during the Holocaust.

“We take this opportunity to recall the Nazis’ systematic persecution and brutal murder of six million Jewish people. In their death camps and under their inhuman rule, the Nazis also enslaved and killed millions of Slavs, Roma, gays, people with disabilities, priests and religious leaders, and others who courageously opposed their brutal regime,” said Trump.

“Every generation must learn and apply the lessons of the Holocaust to prevent new horrors against humanity from occurring. As I have said: 'We will stamp out prejudice. We will condemn hatred. We will bear witness, and we will act.'”