"International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust" - Lycée français de Chicago
Remarks by Consul General of France Vincent Floreani on the occasion of the "International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust" - Lycée français de Chicago
(January 27, 2015)
Ten years ago, the nations of the world decided to establish an "International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust."
This is what we are commemorating today.
What is the Holocaust? It was the genocide of the Jewish people. This means their systematic destruction, during the 1940s, in Europe. Close to six million men and women, including one-and-half million children, were killed just because they were born Jewish.
This day of remembrance was set on January 27. This is the day of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp, just 70 years ago.
At school, you have discussed this event with your history professors. It is part of your school curriculum. Many of you read "The Diary of Anne Frank". You know about this horrific crime we are remembering today.
You will have a chance to speak with two people who were children at that time and were affected by the Holocaust.
Mrs Nicole Terry, had to flee to avoid deportation and was separated from her parents.
Mrs Judith Levy Strauss, was deported to Theresienstadt concentration camp and survived. Some of you read "Escape Story" by Eva Erben. Eva Erben escaped deportation from this very camp where Mrs Strauss was. The book is in the Lycée´s library. Its French title is "Oubliée".
Why do we need to remember?
We need to remember ...
... because it is something that happened in our countries. A well know French deportee and later Minister in France, Mrs Simone Veil, noted: "It was in a European country, long admired for its philosophies and its musicians, that the decision was made to gas and burn millions of men, women and children. Their ashes also rest at the bottom of graves in Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, Belarus and elsewhere." France has also recognized the responsibility of the French State in the Holocaust;
... Because hatred of the Jews still exists. Three weeks ago, a terrorist attacked a kosher market in Paris and killed 4 people, just because they were Jewish. Last year, a terrorist also killed four people in a Jewish museum in Brussels. Two years ago, another terrorist attacked a Jewish school in the South of France and killed several children;
... Because some people deny the Holocaust happened, promote anti-Semitism, call for the destruction of Israel. We need to show our determination to defend historical truth. No peace is built on lies. The Holocaust is a historical fact. In that regard, I´d like to mention the Aladdin project which aims at building bridges of knowledge, in particular between Jews and Muslims.
... Because other genocides happened in other parts of the world, in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur; Roma Gypsies were also exterminated during WW2 and Armenians just after WW1.
... Because some positive memories can also inspire us. The "Righteous" are thousands of non-Jewish men and women who saved Jews from deportation during World War II. In France, 76,000 Jews were deported. But the remaining three-quarters of Jews were saved with the help of thousands of the Righteous.
We need to remember the criminals who decided and perpetrated the Holocaust, those who let it happen, and those who fought against it.
We need to remember to prevent future genocide.
We need to remember to always oppose anti-Semitism, racism and hatred which are the roots of genocide.
We need to remember and we need to know this in order to promote tolerance, justice and understanding./.