Sassoli, Holocaust Memorial Day: If understanding is impossible, knowing is necessary 

 

Excerpts of the speech of the European Parliament President on International Holocaust Commemoration Day

“Today we remember that 76 years ago the gates of Auschwitz-Birkenau were opened, revealing the horror of the Nazi genocide.

“What happened in that concentration camp and in all the other death factories scattered throughout Europe, gives us a responsibility and imposes on us the obligation to watch over and keep the memory alive. As Primo Levi wrote, "if understanding is impossible, knowing is necessary".

“Remembering is therefore a duty so that what has happened cannot happen again because each time it places us in front of the darker side of humanity, the total loss of the most basic feeling of compassion.

“And now we must do it almost without the voices of those who lived it: the passage of time means we have to look at these events with the force of reason and without the precious help of those who experienced the devastation, the ferocity, and the ruinous force of the nationalist devil.

“But we must also remember that those who experienced that horror have left democratic and European institutions in our custody.

“Europe itself was born as a symbol of openness, cooperation, awareness of a common destiny. It was born from a great vision, from a courageous ideal that drew strength from such a huge tragedy as the one caused by the Second World War and the horrific Nazi designs.

“This is why all of us Europeans must share responsibility for that custody: the custody of democracy and Europe.

“As you know, we are living in a time of great change. In these difficult months we have learned to focus on our values, to understand the meaning of our interdependence.

“The transformations taking place offer extraordinary opportunities, which we must use to improve the quality of our life, to correct the development of the economy and society to ensure social and environmental sustainability, to reduce distances and inequalities.

“Today more than ever we must therefore act together and protect our cohesion, that is the context in which entire generations have experienced peace and have been able to build a model which for a long period has allowed well-being, economic growth, social and civil rights.

“Holocaust Remembrance Day is not just an anniversary, above all it is an invitation to show our commitment, vigilance and responsibility.”

“To prevent denial and amnesia, we must all make this commitment to a clear and vigilant historical memory, capable not only of bearing witness but also of understanding, preventing, and intervening whenever the seeds of absolute evil spread.

“A way to remember but also to honor the sacrifice of those who lost their lives fighting for a better world by defending the values ​​of freedom and justice.”

The full text of the speech is available here

Video footage of the President’s speech