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You are here : Home > News > Speeches > January 2005 > Nicolas Schmit's response to a question by MEPs Schulz and Ford (PES) on the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz
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Nicolas Schmit's response to a question by MEPs Schulz and Ford (PES) on the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz

Date of Speech : 26-01-2005

Place : Brussels

Speaker : Nicolas Schmit

Policy area : General Affairs and External Relations

Event : European Parliament mini-plenary session

Mr President,

Tomorrow at Auschwitz, a large number of Heads of State will gather, together with Holocaust survivors, to commemorate the liberation of the extermination camp sixty years ago.

Representing a new Europe, they will perform this duty to remember and this duty to communicate, which is more necessary today than ever.

The Presidency thanks the two Members of Parliament for initiating, through their question, a moment of reflection and remembrance at this Parliament that, in 1979, after the first election with direct suffrage, elected a survivor of Auschwitz, Mme Simone Veil, to the Presidency.

Sixty years – that is less than the span of a human life.

This is the occasion to allow the survivors to speak, those who bear the scars of this unspeakable horror, which must still be said out loud and clear.

The Shoah will always remain a rupture, a fracture in European history. As Rita Süssmuth, the former President of the Bundestag, said, the Shoah is beyond comparison. It is the very negation of our civilisation, of our spiritual and ethical values. It is a negation of what it means to be human.

Auschwitz is not just a part of history, an unbearable history.

Auschwitz should remain a present reality, painful, pushing generations of today and of the future to better understand and to reject ideologies of hate and exclusion, and to reinforce the awareness that this must never happen again.

The duty of remembrance is essential, but alone is not sufficient. We must, it is true, be reverent, but we must also be committed, and we must act. Anti-Semitism still lurks in our societies, as does racism of all types.

Revisionists and all those who attempt to relativise the uniqueness of the Shoah, all of those who make excuses or find unacceptable links, must be fought.

This is a crime against truth, as President Chirac formulated it, which must be combated in a Europe founded on ethical values and respect for human rights. These values are also enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights integrated into the Constitution largely approved by the European Parliament.

But it is also a crime against the memory of all those, especially of the hundreds of thousands of children, whose lives were extinguished in the most despicable way. Let their looks of sadness and fear weigh heavily upon our consciences and motivate us to lead a resolved and engaged battle against forgetting and, worse yet, against the absolute denial of the crime.

The defence of human rights and, consequently, of all those who are today victims of attacks on their dignity from anti-Semitic and racist tendencies is one of the cornerstones of European Union policy.

To this end, the Council and the other European institutions are cooperating closely with international organisations like the Council of Europe, the OSCE and the United Nations in the fight against this scourge.

The Council is pleased with the initiatives undertaken by the OSCE, especially the adoption of the declarations of Berlin and Brussels, which condemn all aspects of anti-Semitism and all other acts of intolerance.

The creation during the ministerial meeting of the OSCE in Sofia of posts of personal Representatives of the OSCE to fight anti-Semitism, as well as racism and Islamophobia, should support the action of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights in Warsaw, whose mandate is based on monitoring anti-Semitic activity and other forms of intolerance, as well as the formulation of strategies to put an end to it. During the 59th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, a resolution explicitly condemning all forms of anti-Semitism was adopted at the initiative of the European Union. On Human Rights Day, 10 December 2004, the Union reminded New York of the importance of education, which is essential if a culture of respect and tolerance is to be brought about, a culture compatible with safeguarding fundamental rights.

The creation of the European Observatory for Racist and Xenophobic Phenomena is in line with the determination of the Council and of the Union in general to provide the necessary tools to fight different forms of intolerance. The work of remembrance with young people should also benefit from European initiatives, which should be promoted.

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This page was last modified on : 27-01-2005

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