On Wednesday, the European Commission marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day, 79 years after the liberation of Auschwitz. The Secretary-General of the council, Marija Pejčinović Burić, and Prime Minister of Lichtenstein, Daniel Risch, delivered speeches at the main entrance to the European Council In Strasbourg, adjacent to a memorial for the victims.
Representatives of 47 member states of the European Council, ambassadors, and guests from other countries participated in the ceremony, which was led by the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Theodoros Rousopoulos. Representatives of the Jewish community included the Chief Rabbi of France and Vice President of the Conference of European Rabbis, Rabbi Haim Korsia; the Chief Rabbi of Strasbourg and the Rhineland district in France, Rabbi Abraham Weill; the Israeli ambassador to UNESCO, Haim Asraf; Maurice Dahan, President of the Lower Rhine Jewish Consistory; Rabbi Mendel Samama of the Hemdat Shlomo congregation in Strasbourg; and Sara Lustig, daughter of film producer, Branko Lustig, best known for his production of Schindler’s List. Ms Lustig serves as Chairman of the International Holocaust Alliance and advisor to the Croatian prime minister on Holocaust issues and anti-Semitism.
In a moving message, Rabbi Korsia spoke of “a direct line that courses through Jewish history: the voice is the same voice, the cry is the same cry, and the terrible silence that comes after – is that same silence. Only the backdrop and calendar date have changed. There is a direct line from the looming smoke of the crematoriums in Auschwitz and Majdanek to the smoke that rose from the burnt houses in Be’eri and Kfar Aza on October 7th, Jewish Holocaust day in Israel’s South. It is the same fire of hatred for the Jews that burnt at the House of the Wannsee Conference while planning the final solution, that recently incinerated all the walls of humanity during the inferno on Simchat Torah. Nothing has changed, just the setting.”
Rabbi Korsia continued, saying, “Anti-Semitism has been defined as an ‘Eternal Hatred of an Eternal People.’ It has no rationale. It is not based on time or circumstances; it is an existing fact. Anti-Semitism has accompanied the Jewish nation like a shadow. Wherever the Jews were, there was hatred. The famous French philosopher, Sartre, determined that anti-Semitism belongs to the category of situations, not to the category of opinions, and that holding a discussion with a situation is impossible! The most terrible expression ever of anti-Semitism was the Holocaust. produced a mass extermination of a people – a plan of genocide. It set out like monsters, human animals, to perform a horrifying massacre of the people on the southern border of the Land of Israel, and took men, women, and children captive, so they would have someone to abuse. In the 1940s, they burned them in the crematorium, now they cook children in the ovens of the homes they invade as they document their atrocities on film. Then the world was silent, and now, too, not everyone is shocked; not all express condemnation. The crimes and the evil were met with silent consent. Even women’s organizations who know what these sons of Satan have done to the captives have filled their mouths with water. This silence is deafening! I accuse!
“The memory of an event is always a warning sign: Never Again. However, it quickly became clear that memory is no guarantee, following the magnitude and impact of the atrocities. Too many people prefer to deny, so as not to expose themselves and their people to memory and the burning guilt. As time has passed by, several Holocaust deniers have risen, including the enlightened academia, to shred pages from the history of humanity. This trend has increased over time, and after October 7th, it was only a matter of days before the victims became the accused, and the persecuted were looked upon as the persecutors. Even the International Court of Justice was party to an absurd legal spectacle, where a bleeding Israel that set out to defend itself, was sued for genocide in a preposterous manner.
Rabbi Korsia praised the work of Dr German Zakharyayev, entrepreneur and founder of The Day of Liberation and Rescue: “This unique day, which is commemorated each year in dozens of countries may be a necessary statement and much-needed gesture in a world brimming with the forgetful and the forgotten. Dr Zakharyayev has invested his wealth and his power to perpetuate the victory of good over evil, of salvation over sin and crime, and of light that banishes the darkness. Through his public, informative activities and enterprises of thanksgiving to the Creator of the world and the governments and allied soldiers who have been his messengers and partners in annihilating the army of cruelty and human depravity, he has built a beacon with his shining conscience, that flashes and implores and rings the alarm: Do not forget, evil is still among us!
“Anton Chekhov, the famous writer and playwright, said that ‘if in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don’t put it there.’ History is written by hatred and evil as one continuous plot. The gun was on the wall, and so was the inscription. Because whoever lets the world forget what this gun does, should know that in the next act, it is supposed to be fired and emit smoke. Whoever did not emulate the Holocaust and annihilate evil, encountered it with a different backdrop and setting on October 7th. This gun is still smoking and it is up to us to do everything so that this act will be the final one of this horror screenplay of eternal hatred for an eternal people. History is always written from the victors’ point of view, and the victors have to be us – all of us – the side of good in the world!”
Rabbi Korsia concluded his speech with an appeal to the world: “From now on, we will cry out until we are hoarse: No more! No to rising anti-Semitism; no to evil; no to cruelty; no to bloodshed. And at the same time, we say yes! Yes to the brotherhood of nations; yes to tolerance; yes to peace; yes to the human spirit created in the image of G-d. There is no doubt that such a statement coming from the European Commission during such dark times will be a bright ray of light for the Jewish people and for humanity as a whole.”
The ceremony concluded with a minute of silence in memory of the Holocaust victims and the laying of wreaths.