Czech Senator warns against hatred, racism, nationalism, xenophobia
Speaking today at a gathering in the Czech Senate to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Senate Vice-Chair Alena Gajdůšková (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD) said, "The greatest denial of the memory of the victims of the Holocaust victims would be if people were to allow a similar tragedy to repeat itself anywhere in the world. It would be an insult to the victims of the Shoah to allow antisemitic opinions and statements to be presented publicly without responding to them appropriately."
Gajdůšková warned against the ignorance that flows from a lack of awareness of historical facts and against fomenting the hatred, racism, nationalism and xenophobia that have always resulted in crimes against humanity. She rejected the idea that data disseminated by "dubious antisemitic publicists" might ever be considered a relevant source of information.
Professor Tomáš Kosta then shared his experience of several concentration camps with the gathering, saying he believed his survival had been random, not heroic. "Unfortunately, few were as lucky as I was," he said.
Kosta stressed that violence must be defended against as quickly as possible. "When any kind of dictatorship, whether black or red, seizes power, that becomes much more difficult," he added.
Petr Papoušek, chair of the Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic (Federace židovských obcí) called on those present to sign a student petition supporting the nomination of Nicholas Winton, a British man who saved Jewish children during WWII, for the Nobel Peace Prize. Czech MP Miroslava Němcová (Civic Democrats - ODS), the chair of the lower house, has already submitted the proposal. She was unable to attend today's gathering because of illness.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day commemorates the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp in southern Poland on 27 January 1945. Gajdůšková called the camp the "clearest symbol of the monstrous nature of Nazism".
Between 1940 and 1945, 1.1 million people perished in Auschwitz, most of them Jewish. As many as 50 000 Czechoslovak citizens were imprisoned there, approximately 6 000 of whom survived.
The Nazis murdered six million people of Jewish origin during the Second World War. A total of 80 000 Jewish people from Bohemia and Moravia perished. Throughout all of Czechoslovakia, whose prewar Jewish community numbered 350 000, a total of 250 000 Jewish people died.
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