On Tuesday January 24, 2012, the international community gathered at the European Parliament in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which marks the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp. The event was attended by Members of the European Parliament, members of the Jewish Community, Ambassadors and other important figureheads.
The event was opened by the newly elected President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, who gave a personal reflection on what the event and the day meant to him, as a German, born after the end of World War II. He said that the European Parliament's role is to safeguard against anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.
Yuli Edelstein, Israeli Minister for Public Diplomacy and Diaspora, noted in his speech how in under 90 minutes, the fate of Europe's Jews was sealed at the Wannsee Conference. He said that 70 years ago, Anti-Semitism worked, and it must not work now. In this context, he mentioned the existential danger posed by a nuclear Iran led by a negationist regime that threatens Israel with destruction.
President Moshe Kantor of the EJC also spoke and expressed his desire that the day become a permanent event in the calendar of the European Parliament; the memories and lessons of the Holocaust must be retained. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Eichmann trial in Israel, and those in attendance were honored to be able to hear from Justice Gabriel Bach who was a prosecutor at his trial.
Former European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek's remarks echoed those of the previous speakers, in which he said that we are helpless to name and understand the Holocaust. Such a tragedy serves as a lesson in cruelty from which we are not safe. The European Union came into being to prevent war, something that still holds true today.