Speech by EP President Martin Schulz on the occasion of the Holocaust Remembrance Day in the European Parliament
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am very moved to be here with you today at this Holocaust Remembrance Day commemoration ceremony, organised by the European Parliament in cooperation with the European Jewish Congress.
As a German born in 1955, I did not live through the darkest times in the history of my country. But the mass murder committed by the Nazis in the name of my nation was the reason I became involved in politics, as I vowed: Never again.
During the greatest horror mankind has ever known, six million innocent people; men, women, children, babies; were killed.
They were killed because they were Jewish.
In the name of my nation, the Jewish people were forced to endure suffering for which no reparation can ever be made.
The lives lost will be missed forever.
The void they left can never be filled.
I bow down before the memory of all those who were murdered.
I say this as a German, as a politician and as a father:
We must keep the memory alive.
We must tell our children about the crimes committed in Theresienstadt, in Auschwitz, Birkenau and elsewhere. We must do so for the sake of our children, we must tell them so that their children will tell the next generation.
Remembering hurts, but we must teach our children how this unique crime in human history, these barbaric acts of evil could happen in one of the most modernized societies of that time. The negation of civilisation that was the Shoah started with ordinary people.
Too many allowed the seed of hatred to be planted in their hearts.
Too many allowed the hatred to grow.
Too many turned a blind eye.
Too many stood by silent.
We must never allow this to happen again. Never again.
It is a great privilege to be with you.
I am, we are all grateful to you.
You who did not succumb to devastation, the devastation of the death camps and the devastation of memory
You who survived and chose to live.
You who found the strength to tell your story.
So that your memories will become our shared memory.
So that those who do not know come to know.
So that those who do not care come to care.
So that it will never happen again.
Anyone who walks through the grounds of the concentration camps of Auschwitz, Buchenwald or Theresienstadt, in the shadows of the barbed-wires, the guard towers, the barracks and the crematorium; anyone who sees these pictures that will never leave you, must lose faith in humanity.
But you, the survivors, you did not give up in humanity.
You are an inspiration to all of us.
Our main speaker for today's commemoration ceremony, Professor Agnes Heller, is such an inspiration to mankind.
Born in 1929 she was raised in a Jewish family in Hungary. Her father, before being deported to Auschwitz, where died in 1944, helped people to flee from the Nazis. Together with her mother Agnes Heller narrowly escaped deportation.
A globally known scholar, philosopher and humanist, she has extensively researched and written on questions of morality and evil, and has greatly contributed to our understanding of the origins and causes of the Holocaust.
I am honored and pleased to welcome you, Professor Heller, to the European Parliament.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is for me a precious gift that more than 100.000 Jewish people live again in my home country, in Germany. It is a miracle.
But it pains me that in today's Europe Jews again fear for their lives, that they ask themselves: "Will I be safe going to synagogue or a Jewish shop? Will my children be safe in a Jewish school"?
It saddens me deeply when young Jewish people are in doubt whether they can raise their children in Europe, whether it is right to stay. Some consider leaving Europe for good - because they no longer feel safe.
Jewish life is part of our culture and our identity. Without the Jews Europe would not be Europe.
But to our shame some have not learned the lessons of the past.
Some deny the Holocaust ever happened, they try to convince us that the pain and loss inflicted on innocent victims, are illusions, are lies; adding insult to injury.
We will never accept this.
Some insult, threaten and attack people because they are Jewish or express support for Israel. They desecrate Jewish cemeteries, smear hate speech on the walls of synagogues and spit on young boys wearing a kippa. This is outrageous.
We will never allow them to make you outsiders in your own countries.
Others even kill. In brutal attacks in Toulouse, in Brussels, in Paris, Jews were again killed because they were Jewish.
We pay tribute to those killed by hatred and vow to protect the living.
It is upon us to fight the return of past demons, demons we believed banned for ever, the demons of anti-Semitism and ultra-nationalism, the demons of fanatism and intolerance, we must fight these demons every step of the way. Today and every day.
It is upon us to fight for freedom and justice, for democracy and human dignity. Today and every day.
It is upon us to make sure that every Jew; men, women, children, babies; feel safe in Europe. Our message is clear: Jewish friends and neighbors, we stand with you against those who spread hatred. Europe is your home. Today and forever.
Ladies and gentlemen,
we have come together here in Brussels today to mourn the lives that were destroyed, to honor the survivors, and to renew our pledge: Never again. Let it be a challenge to us all: Never again.
Thank you for your attention.