For many decades, the Nazis’ murder of six million European Jews was marked on different dates in different countries on the continent, based on significant wartime dates in each land.
Since 2005, several countries have adopted a uniform date, Jan. 27, the anniversary of the 1945 liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. That date was designated by a UN General Assembly resolution.
On Holocaust Remembrance Day this year, which occurred on Monday, memorial ceremonies were held in such places as the Czech Republic, Greece, England, Russia, Germany and Italy.
At Auschwitz itself, the largest-ever delegation from Israel, including about half of the country’s members of Knesset, took part — among the participants were Finance Minister Naftali Bennett and Chief Rabbi David Lau. The delegation was led by Yariv Levin of the Likud-Beiteinu coalition, and Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog.
A delegation from the United States was led by Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), joined by lawmakers from 10 European Union member states, and scores of Jewish politicians from around the world.
“When we say ‘Never Again,’ we can say it because there is a Jewish state and a Jewish army,” said Johnny Daniels, a British native who made aliyah a decade ago and coordinated this year’s Auschwitz ceremony as executive director of From the Depths, a Holocaust education organization. “The presence of half the Israeli parliament in Auschwitz is a powerful symbol for that reason.
“This event is bigger than all of us,” Daniels told the Polish Press Agency. “It’s not Israeli, it’s not Polish — it’s international.”
From the Depths is funded mostly by New York philanthropist Stewart Rahr.
Some 800 Polish policemen provided security for the Auschwitz ceremony, which was attended by two dozen Holocaust survivors, above.
The Knesset members also participated in a joint ceremony with the Sejm, Poland’s parliament.