Czech PM warns against Holocaust denial
Speaking yesterday in Prague at a meeting in the Czech Senate to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day, Czech PM Petr Nečas warned against Holocaust denial. The PM said the perversion of history is dangerous and tempts people to forget what has already been understood.
"Holocaust denial has become a real industry today, feeding off of current political conflicts in various parts of the world. It is a current evil which directly continues the evil of yesterday," the PM told his audience, which included representatives of the Federation of Jewish Communities, Holocaust survivors, representatives of Roma communities, and politicians.
Nečas said that because of the Holocaust, society has already seen "the very bottom of its bestial, collective instincts" and understood how totalitarian regimes work with "the banality of evil" and how law-abiding citizens can become "the dutiful cogs of a death machine." He believes that those who currently deny the past horrors of the targeted annihilation of the Jewish people want to spark hatred and prepare the ground for a second coming of barbarism. "Our responsibility is to make sure they do not succeed," the PM said.
Holocaust Remembrance Day commemorates the day that the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz in southern Poland was liberated 66 years ago. Between 1940 and 1945, 1.1 million people perished there, most of whom were Jewish. As many as 50 000 Czechoslovak citizens were among the prisoners at Auschwitz, of whom about 6 000 survived.
Zuzana Růžičková, a former prisoner of both Theresienstadt (Terezín) and Auschwitz-Birkenau, said it is essential to continue to remember the Holocaust. She said the Nazi horrors were so devilishly cynical, inhuman, and unspeakable that the human mind hesitates to believe them. "This can be easily abused, because we would prefer to believe such things are not possible, that they never happened, that it has all been exaggerated," Růžičková said.
Visitors to the Senate also spoke of the persecution and annihilation of Roma people during the Second World War. "In our community, just as in the Jewish community, there is not a single family in which most of our loved ones did not perish at the hands of the Nazis and their minions," said Čeněk Růžička, chair of the Committee for the Redress of the Roma Holocaust (Výbor pro odškodnění romského holokaustu).
Růžička said he is disturbed by the growth of racism today. "In recent years we have witnessed the growth of various forms of anti-Semitism. It is infinitely good, given the Holocaust, that internationally, the policy is to respond sharply to that growth. Unfortunately, in the case of anti-Gypsyism, the response is different," he said. Růžička sees the cause of anti-Gypsyism as being the minimal historical awareness of the crimes committed against the Roma. He also condemned present-day racist attacks on the Roma and the controversial statements of some Czech politicians.
This is the sixth time Holocaust Remembrance Day has been commemorated in the Czech Senate. "For evil to win, all that is needed is for good people to do nothing, and that applies not only to the Holocaust, but also to our current attitude toward terrorism. Let us never forget," said Vice-Chair of the Czech Senate Přemysl Sobotka, who co-organized the event.
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