27 January marks the International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 78th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. Ahead of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, President von der Leyen said:
“We must never forget the six millions of Jewish women, men and children, and all other victims, among them hundreds of thousands of Roma, murdered during the Holocaust.
This year will be marked by remembering Jewish resistance and insurgence in Nazi-occupied Europe. We will commemorate the 80th anniversary of major uprisings, like the Warsaw Ghetto uprising on 19 April 1943, which became a symbol of Jewish resistance and the brutality of the Nazi regime. But also other resistance acts like in Belgium, where, that same day, three members of the resistance – Robert Maistriau, Youra Livchitz and Jean Franklemon – sabotaged a train going to Auschwitz with Jews sentenced to death. Others could later escape from that train, 120 survived. There were other revolts that might be less talked about – in concentration and death camps in Treblinka and Sobibor or the Białystok Ghetto. Because Jewish victims were not passive; they organised resistance against the Nazis.
Still today, and forever, we can learn from the strength, courage and the determination of these poorly armed Jewish fighters and partisans, who carried out revolts successfully against all odds, and an almost certain death. They fought in the name of justice. They were determined to fight back.
As stated by Auschwitz survivor Elie Wiesel: “The question is not why all the Jews did not fight, but how so many of them did. Tormented, beaten, starved, where did they find the strength – spiritual and physical – to resist?”
We cannot remain silent when injustice takes place, when massacres are committed. We have to call out antisemitism, antigypsyism and all forms of hatred and discrimination – be it on the grounds of racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, gender, sexual orientation, age or disability.
Antisemitism led to the Holocaust but did not end with it. Antisemitism is again on the rise in Europe. So is Holocaust denial, distortion, trivialization, which is fueling antisemitism and has corrosive effects for collective European memory and cohesion.
Remembrance is not an aim in itself. We must go a step further. We must foster Jewish life. Europe can only prosper when its Jewish communities prosper too. We will work towards a European Union free from antisemitism and any form of discrimination. For an open, inclusive and equal European society.
Source: European Commission