An Auschwitz Rememberance
January 29, 2014
A Jewish leader stood before 300 survivors of the Nazis’ most notorious death camp on Tuesday and asked world leaders to prevent another Auschwitz, warning of a rise of anti-Semitism that has made many Jews fearful of walking the streets and is causing many to flee Europe.
Ronald Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress, made his bleak assessment on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, speaking next to the gate and the railroad tracks that marked the last journey for more than a million people murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
He said his speech was shaped by the recent terrorist attacks in France that targeted Jews and newspaper satirists.
“For a time, we thought that the hatred of Jews had finally been eradicated. But slowly the demonization of Jews started to come back,” Lauder said. “Once again, young Jewish boys are afraid to wear yarmulkes on the streets of Paris and Budapest and London.”
The recent attack in Paris, in which four Jews were killed in a kosher supermarket, is not the only deadly attack on Jews in recent years.
Last May a shooting killed four people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels, and in 2012, a rabbi and three children were murdered in the French city of Toulouse.
Europe also saw a spasm of anti-Semitism last summer during the war in Gaza, with protests in Paris turning violent and hostility spreading across the continent.
“This vilification of Israel, the only Jewish state on earth, quickly became an opportunity to attack Jews,” Lauder said. “Much of this came from the Middle East, but it has found fertile ground throughout the world.”
The commemorations in Poland, which during World War II was under Nazi occupation, were also marked by a melancholy awareness that it will be the last major anniversary that a significant number of survivors will be strong enough to attend.
In Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, where he said, “My job as prime minister of Israel is to make sure that there won’t be any more threats of destruction against the state of Israel. My job is to ensure that there won’t be any reasons to establish any more memorial sites like Yad Vashem.”