“During the times of National Socialism, millions of people were deprived of their rights, tortured, agonized and murdered”, the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Angela Merkel, said on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day.
“That day reminds us what racial fanaticism, hatred and misanthropy can bring about.” Unfortunately, antisemitism and agitation were still part of society, Chancellor Merkel said. Therefore her government was fighting it in a resolute way. The Holocaust was part of Germany’s history and had to serve as a reminder. Everything had to be done to make sure it did not repeat itself.
“Every single person is responsible for making sure there is zero tolerance for antisemitism, misanthropy and hatred”, the Chancellor said in her weekly podcast. Especially today, this was very important. She also reminded the Germans that her government recently appointed a commissioner with the task of monitoring and combating antisemitism. Coordinator Felix Klein has been in office since April of 2018.
Angela Merkel told the Germans there were different kinds of antisemitism in the country: There was hatred towards Jews among Germans, but also among Muslim migrants who showed it in a different way. In addition, there was hatred against Israel which could not be tolerated either.
On Friday, the Central Council of Jews in Germany had mentioned a lack of knowledge about the recent history of Germany among younger Germans and a lack of empathy with Holocaust victims. The Council’s President Josef Schuster had warned historical amnesia was dangerous.
German democrats are accusing the radical far-right party ‘AfD’ of contributing to the rise of antisemitism and other forms of hatred. On Sunday, the Buchenwald memorial site at the former Nazi concentration camp will not allow visits by ‘AfD’ members “as long as they do not distance themselves from the antidemocratic (…) and revisionist positions of their party in a credible way”, a spokesperson was quoted saying by the ‘Süddeutsche Zeitung‘ daily.
Numerous Holocaust memorial events were scheduled in all parts of Germany on Sunday. In the Saxony province alone, where many Nazis spread their hatred on a regular basis, memorials in 17 cities and towns were announced.
International organizations were preparing events for Holocaust Memorial Day as well. The World Jewish Congress (WJC) continued its ‘#We Remember’ campaign. Thousands of people from all over the world sent in photos of themselves holding hashtag signs which said ‘#WeRemember’. At the Auschwitz Memorial, the WJC projected those photographs onto a big screen. A live video stream of the latter could be seen on Facebook on Saturday evening.
Some German newspapers included stories about Holocaust victims and survivors in their Saturday editions. Radio and TV programs, especially those belonging to the ARD network, covered the subject as well.
Holocaust Memorial Day is being observed on January 27th.