Human Rights
Internal Policies and EU Institutions

Holocaust Remembrance Day

Brussels -
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Holocaust Remembrance Day
Holocaust Remembrance Day

Dear Minister Edelstein,
Dear President Kantor,
Dear President Lauder,
Dear President Lau,
Dear Professor Wiesel,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Auschwitz is the most terrifying symbol of the Holocaust. Sixty-six years after the liberation of this German Nazi concentration camp, Europe and the world are remembering the 1.1 million people murdered there - Jews, Poles, Roma, Russians and many other nationalities.

We want to remember, we must, and we always will remember.

I have carried a memory of Auschwitz since my childhood. I was born in occupied Poland a few dozen kilometres from where the camp was being built.

I have visited the camp museum many times, but always with the same horror and sadness in my heart. This is what led me as Prime Minister to launch a strategic programme to preserve the camp as a place of memory; but also to create an International Centre to educate future generations.  

Today this Parliament in the heart of Europe is the most appropriate place for exhibitions and ceremonies such as the one we are opening.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
The recent discovery of the architectural plans of the camp shows that we still need to do research. We need to expose everything we can find on this tragedy so that future generations know everything.

Those plans do not change our knowledge about the number of victims and their nationality, nor the identity of the murderers. But, they do reveal how methodical Nazi leaders were in implementing the so-called "Final Solution".

The plans show us that it was not something done by a primitive people, but by people who were educated and intelligent. Unfortunately, here science and technology were used for evil - for mass murder.

Dear Friends,
In our remembrance of the Shoah there must also be a special place for the people who risked their lives to save their fellow citizens.

Among them were men such as Jan Karski, who brought evidence of the mass murder to the outside world. There were others, too, such as Józef Antall and Henryk Sławik who saved the lives of at least 5000 Jews by forging identity documents.

There were the members of Belgian resistance, who freed Jewish civilians being transported to Auschwitz. There were brave Danish people who managed to smuggle out 99% of the Jewish population to neutral Sweden.

And then there were the many unknown individuals who hid people in their homes. They are all truly the Righteous Among the Nations.

Dear Friends,
The scale of the Holocaust puts a very important responsibility for those who look after the memory of that tragedy. Because this is one memory that we can never forget.

I would like to thank the organizers of today's ceremony, and I would like to pass on my personal admiration of the people at the Yad Vashem museum for their determination and commitment to documenting our knowledge of the Shoah.

I wish you strength in passing on to future generations the truth about the tragedy that befell the Jews in the Second World War. That is our great common task.

As we remember the victims, I hope they find peace. We will always remember. It is our duty.
Oseh Shalom.