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Europe

Holocaust commemorations call for zero tolerance of anti-Semitism, xenophobia

media Jews awaiting their fate at the selection ramp, Auschwitz Concentration Camp, May 1944 Wikimedia commons

Survivors of the Holocaust have commemorated those who died before and during World War II on Remembrance Day, marking the occasion to warn against the rise of hatred worldwide.

"I feel great pain and regret very much that in many European countries, but also in our country, people in uniforms similar to those of the Nazis march with no punishment," said Auschwitz survivor Leon Weintraub at the former Nazi concentration camp in Oswiecim, Poland, according to the camp's official social media.

Now a museum, the camp was liberated on 27 January, 74 years ago by Allied forces. Originally established as a work camp by the Germans in 1940, it became a site of torture and death for Jews and others who were forced there.

More than a million people worked at the camp or were put to death in the gas chambers, including Poles, Gypsies, Byelorussians, Ukrainians, French and Soviet POWs, according to the museum.

In a pre-recorded televised address, German chancellor Angela Merkel said there must be “zero tolerance” of xenophobia and anti-Semitism.

As the Holocaust survivor population ages, Merkel called for the tragedy of the murder of millions of people, including six million Jews, not to be forgotten.

“People growing up today must know what people were capable of in the past, and we must work proactively to ensure that it is never repeated,” she said.

Other commemorations

In Paris, a new exhibition opened displaying artefacts from diplomats around the world who used their offices to rescue Jews before and during World War II. At the inauguration, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian paid tribute to diplomats who went above and beyond to save an estimated 200,000 lives.

“They simply ignored the rules and regulations and gave Jews under threat passports, visas and diplomatic refuge in their embassies,” he said, adding that their efforts “show us the obligations of humanity”.

The Israeli government recognises 36 diplomats as Righteous Among The Nations, an honorific bestowed on non-Jews who risked their lives during the Holocaust.

 
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