The European Parliament today marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and International Holocaust Remembrance Day with a solemn ceremony at its plenary session in Brussels.
Members of Parliament were joined by holocaust survivor and Italian senator for life Liliana Segre.
During the ceremony European Parliament President David Sassoli said:
“On this day in 1945, the gates of the abyss were opened on European soil. In Auschwitz, the very essence of humanity was brought into question by the desire of the Nazi regime to exterminate the Jewish people and with it the Roma and Sinti people, Slavic people, political opponents, and LGBTI people.
“Auschwitz embodies the very denial of our civilization. A civilization growing from Jewish and Christian origins, that met the Islamic world, that drove the enlightenment, wrote peaceful coexistence into law, which fought against barbarism and for the defence of human dignity, which sought to build an idea of people living together in our countries and cities. Our civilization’s drive for ever greater freedom stopped at the threshold of Auschwitz’s gates.
Statement by President Sassoli at the ceremony in the European Parliament marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz
“Faced with this, today, full of emotion and gathered in recollection, we bow before all the victims of the Holocaust. We want to take on our duty to remember. We take on this duty because we know that Europeans built Auschwitz, we must take ownership of what happened and live up to our responsibilities.
“Auschwitz and all the factories of death scattered throughout the European area, represent a fundamental question to our society, our civilization, our culture and imposes obligations on us. Above all, it imposes an obligation to act whenever we see violence and discrimination, whenever an anti-Semitic and racist action occurs in our societies.
“Nazism and racism are not opinions but crimes. Whenever we read in newspaper articles of acts of violence, attacks, or racist insults, we must consider these attacks addressed at each of us. They are attacks on Europe and on the values it represents, and embody the two diseases of the modern nation that are spreading across our continent – an almost sacred view of borders and a search for a pure and univocal identity – be it religious, ethnic or cultural – which inevitably leads to the creation of enemies.
“On the contrary, Europe was built and should continue to be built on our diversity, representing a plurality of voices, with political, religious and cultural freedom. It is precisely for this reason that we must be grateful to Judaism, which allowed us to form that universalist spirit which is an integral part of our world-view.
“This is why we turn to governments to be vigilant to all forms of intolerance. The vandalism carried out in Jewish cemeteries, the assaults on synagogues and places of worship, the threats to which European Jewish families are subjected. To all the forms of intolerance that minorities face across each one of our Member States every day.
“These obligations are written clearly in our Treaties. We ask the European Commission and the Council to do their utmost to ensure that they are enforced. These principles must guide our actions, to keep the memory of what happened in Auschwitz alive and transmit it to future generations.
“We all express our gratitude to Senator Liliana Segre who is here among us today to give us her testimony. Auschwitz is unspeakable. However, I want to believe that the testimony of those who have seen the unspeakable manages to move our hearts and inspire our actions, so that this can never happen again.”