Leaders of Czech Parliament: Society must not ignore aggression. Museum of Romani Culture director commemorated the Holocaust and its Romani victims with them in the Senate
Czech MP Markéta Pekarová Adamová (TOP 09) and Czech Senator Miloš Vystrčil (Civic Democratic Party - ODS), the chairs of the lower and upper chambers in Parliament, agreed today that society must not ignore aggressive displays targeting people on the basis of their origin, and their remarks were followed by those of Jana Horváthová, the director of the Museum of Romani Culture in Brno, who recalled the circumstances of the Holocaust of the Roma and those who aided or tolerated it. The speeches were made during the commemorative ceremony held at the Senate for the Day of Holocaust Remembrance and the Prevention of Crimes against Humanity.
"Evil cannot be eliminated unless its cause is removed. Retreating in the face of evil never solves the problem - on the contrary, to do so legitimizes it," said House Speaker Pekarová Adamová (TOP 09).
According to Pekarová Adamová, society should reject all forms of aggression, as to do otherwise constitutes participation in it, and among other matters she condemned the actions of antivaxxers who have appropriated the symbol of the Jewish star and thereby equated themselves to the victims of Nazi annihilation. She called such tactics an "expression of a lack of morality and common sense."
It is necessary to raise awareness about what the Holocaust was, Pekarová Adamová said, because "the best prevention against relativizing those horrors is for us to remember them." Senate President Vystrčil then said: "It is not just important that we ourselves never become either perpetrators or victims, but also that we do not become mere onlookers, either."
According to the senator, current events in Belarus and Ukraine, which is being threatened by Russian aggression, cannot be ignored. In his speech, Vystrčil noted the recent 80th anniversary of the meeting of Nazi leaders in Wannsee where it was decided to organize the annihilation of 11 million European Jews.
He reminded listeners that the Wannsee meeting was led by Nazi official Reinhard Heydrich, who is often described as the executioner of both the Czech and Jewish nations. The Czech Republic, therefore, is obligated to forever remain a safe country for inhabitants of the Jewish faith, according to the senator.
His remarks were followed by those of Helga Hošková–Weissová, a former Auschwitz prisoner, who among other matters warned listeners against underestimating manifestations of antisemitism, racism and xenophobia. "Groups chanting fascist slogans are marching freely through the streets, just as the Hitlerjugend once did," she said of the present moment.
Those remarks were followed by Jana Horváthová, director of the Museum of Romani Culture in Brno, who recalled the circumstances of the Holocaust for its Romani victims as well as those who aided or tolerated those events. Michal Klíma, the chair of the Foundation for Holocaust Victims, then stated that, according to statistics, antisemitic speech is also increasing in the Czech Republic.
Klíma said the denial of reality and dissemination of lies and misinformation are not protected by freedom of speech. "It is not an expression of opinion if somebody alleges a burning house is not on fire," he told the gathering which, due to pandemic measures, was small compared to previous such commemorations and was essentially limited to the speakers.
The Day of Holocaust Remembrance commemorates 27 January 1945, when the Auschwitz Concentration and Extermination Camp in Nazi-occupied southern Poland was liberated. Between 1940 and 1945, 1.1 million people, mostly Jewish, died at Auschwitz.
The camp's prisoners included 50 000 Czechoslovak citizens, of whom about 6 000 survived. The Nazis murdered six million people of Jewish descent during World War II.
The Nazis also targeted people of Romani ancestry for murder, with the Czech Press Agency reporting the number of such victims as approximately 220 000. However, other estimates put the number at 800 000, or anywhere between one-quarter to one-half of the prewar population of Roma and Sinti in Europe.
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