PHOTO AUSCHWITZ, POLAND. GABRIELA HRABANOVA
A gathering held in the Czech Senate today on the occasion of Holocaust Victims' Remembrance and Prevention of Crimes against Humanity Day warned against being passive with respect to new forms of anti-Semitism and of the need to counteract wrongdoing. "The millions of victims of the monstrous Nazi regime could have a long series of successors at any time, because anti-Semitism, fanaticism and hatred have not yet disappeared from the world history of the incorrigible human race," said the Vice-Chair of the Czech Senate, Přemysl Sobotka (Civic Democrats - ODS).
Sobotka said anti-Semitism is taking on new forms and receiving new protectors or passive observers, and that religious fanatics are gaining ground. "Let's not be passive with respect to any new forms of the Munich mentality. Otherwise the honoring of the victims of the Holocaust will become a mere formality without achieving the necessary result," he said.
The chair of the Czech lower house, Miroslava Němcová (Civic Democrats - ODS) said six million Jewish people had not just been the victims of their Nazi murderers during WWII, but also the victims of those who "pretended not to see and not to know." Němcová said there would have been no way to avoid seeing one's Jewish fellow-citizens being deprived of their property and transported to the apocalypse of the concentration camps.
Němcová said she therefore considers it necessary "to raise children not to be passive, to know how to counteract wrongdoing, to be prepared to defend the freedom which seems so natural to them today." She said she had decided to advocate for the "Nicky's Family" (Nickyho rodina) education project in Czech schools, which commemorates the saving of several hundred Czech Jewish children from the Nazis by people who organized their escape to Great Britain.
The chair of the Terezín Initiative (Terezínská iniciativa), Dagmar Lieblová, noted that for the current generation, WWII and the Shoah (the Hebrew term for the genocide of Jewish people during WWII) could seem like ancient history. "The Holocaust already is - and we hope will always remain - in the past. However, there is still an ongoing need to prevent crimes against humanity," she emphasized.
Karel Holomek, the chair of the Romani Association of Moravia, followed up on that ongoing need by pointing out that crowds in North Bohemia have been chanting slogans against "inadaptables" and the French electoral campaign is talking about "undesirables". "It is remarkable how even democracies considered 'mature' can go as far as to restrict democratic principles in a moment of difficulty," he said.
Holocaust Victims' Remembrance Day commemorates the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz in southern Poland 67 years ago. Between 1940 and 1945, 1.1 million people, most of them Jewish, perished there. As many as 50 000 Czechoslovak citizens were imprisoned at Auschwitz, of which about 6 000 survived.