Park East Synagogue and the United Nations on Monday hosted an International Holocaust Remembrance virtual service to commemorate the 76th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

The commemoration was led by United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, and Rabbi Arthur Schneier, a Holocaust survivor, Senior Rabbi at Park East Synagogue and the founder and President of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation.

The virtual service was attended by all five permanent representatives to the United Nations Security Council and more than 80 diplomats including representatives from Germany and Israel.

“Anti-Semitism found its most horrific expression in the Holocaust,” said United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres. “The universal revulsion at this crime, followed by the founding of the United Nations and the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, promised an end. But it did not end. Anti-Semitism continues to blight our world.”

The Secretary-General told those who watched the virtual service, “It is sad, but not surprising, that the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered yet another eruption of this poisonous ideology. We can never let down our guard. Today, Holocaust denial, distortion and minimization are resurgent. In Europe, the United States and elsewhere, white supremacists are organizing and recruiting across borders, flaunting the symbols and tropes of the Nazis and their murderous ambitions.”

“Holocaust denial has become a potent form of anti-Semitism, acutely painful to Holocaust survivors,” said Rabbi Arthur Schneier, ‘Camp Auschwitz’ and 6MWE outfits. “The poisonous image of the swastika is again defacing synagogues and cemeteries in France, Germany and most recently Montreal. Anti-Semitism and its camouflage, anti-Zionism, are the rallying cry for all hate mongers of our day.”

According to Rabbi Schneier, current headlines have made the memories of his youth even more painful, “As a child in Vienna after the Anschluss, I encountered the dehumanization of Jews through radio and Goebbels propaganda, the Sturmer hate sheet, laying down the foundation for the burning of my Synagogue on Kristallnacht, November 9, 1938, Concentration Camps, the deportations from Nazi-occupied lands for the fictitious ‘resettlement to the East,’ the crematoria of Auschwitz, Lublin and Terezin.”

Rabbi Schneier expressed concern about the transmission of wide spread anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial to the younger generation. “Children are not born with hatred, they are taught how to hate, when infected they become carriers of hatred. The antidote is education, love your neighbor as yourself and respect the other. Memory not amnesia is moral imperative to quell the rise of hate.”

“United we must defeat anti-Semitism, Xenophobia, racism and lift the burden of a wounded and divided world.”

“An important component of ensuring that such evils are not allowed to recur is educating current and future generations about the horrors of the Holocaust and the heroes who fought to end it,” said Richard M. Mills, Jr. Deputy Permanent Representative of the United States. “With knowledge about the Holocaust diminishing with the passage of time and anti-Semitism alarmingly on the rise, we know that more needs to be done. Last May, the overwhelming bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress when adopting the Never Again Education Act recognizes these concerns.”

Ambassador Zhang Jun, Permanent Representative of the People's Republic of China said, “We join millions around the world to remember the victims of the Holocaust, to pay tribute to the survivors, and to honor those who made heroic sacrifices in the fight against Nazism, fascism and militarism. Holocaust education is important. It’s the way for us to look at history squarely, to pass on the lessons learned to future generations, and to live up to the promise of ‘Never Again.’ Let us always bear in mind that history cannot be denied, history cannot be distorted, and history cannot be forgotten.”

“The lesson learned from the dark years also applies to our time,” stated Nicolas de Riviere, Permanent Representative of France. “The memory of the Holocaust is not only an obligation of respect and fidelity towards the dead, but also a duty of vigilance towards the living. Faced with the resurgence of anti-Semitism, our hands and voices should never tremble. France will remain engaged in this fight.”

Vassily Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation stated, “The Holocaust has been always the wound that has never healed. We will always remember this tragedy…We strongly condemn attempts to rewrite the history of WWII. For the benefit of peace, justice and future generations, we must not be blind to the growth of neo-Nazism, aggressive nationalism, xenophobia and racism.”

“We remember the millions who lost their lives and pay tribute to those that survived, and pledge to never forget the Holocaust, said Dame Barbara Woodward, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom. “Ensuring that we work together to tackle all prejudice including the scourge of anti-Semitism.”

“The cruel crimes committed by the Nazi regime are undeniable. We cannot let anybody distort historical facts,” warned Christoph Heusgen, Permanent Representative of Germany. “This is also what Germany will defend during our elected two-year presidency of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. Together, let us remember today, in order to fight the persistent forces of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial and distortion…As Germans, we carry our responsibility for history and this responsibility will never lessen. We will protect Jewish life and we will stand by Israel.”

“More than 7 decades since the worst hell on earth, the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz was liberated, the same bigotry that led to the slaughter of 6 million Jews still rages,” said Gilad Erdan, Permanent Representative of the State of Israel. “We will continue to lead the fight against anti-Semitism and defend the Jewish people everywhere.”

Israel Nitzan, Acting Consul General of the State of Israel stated, “We memorialize six million Jews who were murdered just because they were Jews…With the founding of the State of Israel, Jews from around the world, for the first time, had a guaranteed safe place to practice without persecution. I thank all of our partners in combating anti-Semitism and for never forgetting what has happened in our past.”