Opening address – Holocaust Remembrance Day 

 

Today we honour Holocaust Remembrance Day and commemorate the victims of the Holocaust. Today we renew our commitment to keeping memory alive and to fight relentlessly every possible form of hatred, discrimination and anti-Semitism. For the first time, Holocaust Remembrance Day takes place in the European Parliament chamber, during the plenary session.

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President Knobloch, (thank you for accepting our invitation).

Your Excellencies,

Distinguished guests,

Colleagues, colleagues,

Today we honour Holocaust Remembrance Day and commemorate the victims of the Holocaust.

Today we renew our commitment to keeping memory alive and to fight relentlessly every possible form of hatred, discrimination and anti-Semitism.

For the first time, Holocaust Remembrance Day takes place in the European Parliament chamber, during the plenary session.

With this gesture, we want to send out, today more than ever, a strong signal: "We do not forget".

Perpetuating the memory of the unprecedented crimes of the Holocaust is not just an act of commemoration, but an essential step in the process of healing, both personal and collective.

It is essential to prevent tragedies of this kind from recurring in the future.

The Holocaust must remain a perennial warning.

We must not tolerate acts of violence and racial hatred.

According to the latest Eurobarometer data, 50% of European citizens believe that anti-Semitism is a problem in their country.

This shows that, unfortunately, the virus of anti-Semitism has not yet been eradicated.

We must react firmly to any reappearance of the seeds of hatred.

Our values and our history are stronger than intolerance and violence.

Europe has proven this many times over.

The European Parliament has been and will always be at the side of those who suffer acts of hatred and discrimination.

In 2016 we organised a high-level conference on the future of Jewish communities in Europe and in 2017 we adopted our first resolution against anti-Semitism.

Together we must do more to defend the principles of the UN resolution that established the Holocaust Remembrance Day:

  • promote educational programmes,
  • reject any denial of the holocaust, and
  • condemn, without reservation, any manifestation of intolerance on an ethnic or religious basis.

Our message today is clear: there is no place in the European Union for hatred and anti-Semitism.

We will not allow the tragic mistakes of the past to be repeated: "never again".

We will now listen to the testimony of Dr Charlotte Knobloch, President of the Jewish Community of Munich and Upper Bavaria.

Charlotte Knobloch was only three years old when she was banned from playing with other children in her neighbourhood.

She was Jewish and that was her only fault.

She miraculously survived the atrocities of the Holocaust, thanks to a Christian woman who worked for her family.

Charlotte Knobloch dedicated her life to a courageous fight against hate and anti-Semitism.

All our gratitude goes to her.

BREAK FOR ADDRESS BY DR KNOBLOCH

On behalf of the European Parliament, I would like to thank President Knobloch for her valuable testimony, which is invaluable to all of us.

We shall now observe a minute's silence in memory of all the victims of the Holocaust, bearing in mind that, in order to devote a minute to each one of the victims, we would have to remain silent for more than eleven years.

After the minute of silence we will listen to Ravel's Kaddish, played by the Musical Chapel of Queen Elizabeth of Belgium.

During the minute of silence, the drawings of the children detained in the ghetto of Terezin will be projected in the plenary.

There were about 15,000 of them.

Only 150 survived.

In perpetual memory of their drama, they left their creations on paper, now on display at the Pinkas Synagogue in Prague, to whom our heartfelt thanks go.

More than a thousand words, these drawings illustrate their emotions in the face of atrocities that no child should ever suffer.

"Never again".