Czech Senate appearance by Romani celebrity to commemorate Holocaust backed by war veteran
On 27 January 2017 the Czech Senate hosted its traditional commemorative gathering on the occasion of International Day of Holocaust Remembrance and Prevention of Crimes against Humanity. Senate chair Milan Štěch (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD) said the Holocaust was the worst example of how far intolerance can go.
European culture must be a culture of tolerance, but must not be allowed to tolerate those who espouse racial or religious hatred, the Senate chair said. Second World War veteran Pavel Vranský, who fought during various battles in that conflict, warned against the historical distortions that he said frequently happen in the name of political correctness.
Vranský also objected to the fact that elite members of the Czech popular music scene have criticized the Romani composer and signer Radek Banga for protesting the recent award given to singer Tomáš Ortel, whose band is connected with the ultra-right and whose lyrics take aim at minorities, according to music critics. Banga himself also addressed those assembled, saying that out of respect for all the victims of Nazi concentration camps, including his own grandfather, he is unable to ignore any displays of hatred and xenophobia in today's world.
Banga said those making such displays must believe the Second World War was neither global enough nor monstrous enough and that it did not take enough victims. The vice-chair of the lower house, Jan Bartošek (Christian Democrats - KDU-ČSL), also spoke, reminding those gathered that those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it.
In order for Christians to understand their own religion, they must point to its Jewish roots, the MP noted. International Day of Holocaust Remembrance and Prevention of Crimes against Humanity falls on 27 January to mark the day in 1945 when the Red Army liberated the Nazi concentration camp complex at Auschwitz, where millions of people from all over Europe suffered and died.
Those who died included the Romani children, men and women forced to reside in the so-called "Gypsy Family Camp" in Auschwitz-Birkenau. No Romani prisoners were on hand for the liberation.
The camp's last Romani prisoners, almost 3 000 people, were sent to their deaths in the gas chambers at Auschwitz at the beginning of August 1944. Their murder was the horrible culmination of the Nazis' so-called "Final Solution to the Gypsy Question", which cost the lives of many Romani people all over Europe.
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