As politicians mark International Holocaust Remembrance day, Czech extremists deny it
The January date was chosen to mark the 1945 liberation of the Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. More than one million people were murdered there by the end of the Second World War.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day is primarily dedicated to the six million Jewish victims and to Romani, Sinti and other victims. Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka responded to this significant anniversary yesterday by issuing a statement on his Facebook page.
"The horrible crimes of Nazism must never be forgotten," he wrote, and then added a comment about the current context: "This commemoration is exceptionally relevant especially today, when a broad range of extremists, racists and xenophobes are disseminating hatred and fear in society with increasing intensity. It is the responsibility of all of us to prevent such dissemination of evil. That is why it is necessary to commemorate the victims and the heroes of that time, the people who fought against the Nazis and their crimes and who frequently paid the very highest price for their heroism."
Leo Pavlát, director of the Jewish Museum in Prague, also expressed his view of 27 January on the "Interview" program of Czech Television channel ČT24. He said he believes International Holocaust Remembrance Day is not considered a special day in the Jewish environment, but that it is important because the broader public commemorates the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and the Holocaust.
"This year especially, one cannot avoid acknowledging that this anniversary is connected with today's all but unprecedented threat to the Jewish community in Europe. That is a terrible thing to learn," he said.
Commemorative gatherings traditionally take place around Europe on this day. For example, in Great Britain this year the heroism of the late Sir Nicholas Winton, who rescued 669 children, most of them Jewish, from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia, was celebrated.
The Chamber of Deputies also honored Holocaust victims with a minute of silence in Prague. However, the Czech ultra-right political party National Democracy (ND) exploited the occasion to publish a commentary featuring a manipulative perspective on these historical events.
"International Holocaust Remembrance Day is a good opportunity to state that the Holocaust has most benefited the Jews themselves. It has become a welcome weapon for them to use in order to strengthen their own influence and position. (...) The Holocaust has become a justification for the restriction of our civil liberties, it has become a long-sought piece in the mosaic of the Jewish concept of history, in which their 'chosen' nation is the eternal victim of everyone else's hatred and therefore must seek to rectify this historical injustice by establishing their desired dominance over the world. The Holocaust has served this plan almost ideally," reads a message posted to the party's website on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, signed by the "ND Bureau".
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