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World leaders speak out against hate during Holocaust Remembrance Day

By Doug Cunningham
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World leaders speak out against hate during Holocaust Remembrance Day
Israeli border police look at exhibitions commemorating the genocide of 6 million Jews by the Nazi regime during World War II in Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, on Sunday in Jerusalem. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 27 (UPI) -- World leaders called for everyone to speak out against hate during International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Thursday, the 77th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau.

"We join with nations of the world to grieve one of the darkest chapters in human history -- and to bear witness for future generations so that we can make real our sacred vow: 'never again,'" President Joe Biden said in a White House statement.

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"Today, and every day, we have a moral obligation to honor the victims, learn from the survivors, pay tribute to the rescuers, and carry forth the lessons of last century's most heinous crime," Biden said.

He added that "hate doesn't go away; it only hides. And it falls to each of us to speak out against the resurgence of antisemitism and ensure that bigotry and hate receive no safe harbor, at home and around the world."

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This day of remembrance is a memorial to the millions of lives lost during the Nazi Holocaust.

The United Nations theme for International Holocaust Remembrance Day is "memory, dignity and justice."

"Safeguarding the historical record, remembering the victims, challenging the distortion of history often expressed in contemporary antisemitism, are critical aspects of claiming justice after atrocity crimes," the U.N. said. "The theme encompasses these concerns ... and encourages action to challenge hatred, strengthen solidarity and champion compassion.

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addressed a resurgence of xenophobia and hate during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Antisemitism -- the oldest and most persistent form of prejudice -- is rising yet again," he said. "Attempts to downplay or downright deny the Holocaust are proliferating. No society is immune to irrationality or intolerance. We must never forget the Holocaust could have been prevented."

He warned that "silence in the face of hatred is complicity" and urged people against indifference to the suffering of others.

"Let us pledge to always be vigilant and uphold human rights and dignity for all," Guterres said.

The U.N. is marking the day with a Holocaust Memorial ceremony and a virtual concert featuring Jewish composers "to instill the memory of the tragedy in future generations to prevent genocide from occurring again." It will be livestreamed on UN Web TV and YouTube.

While the rest of the world remembers the holocaust on Jan. 27, Israel memorializes the day on the 27th of Nisan (which falls in April or May).

Israeli Knesset President Mickey Levy spoke Thursday in Parliament, breaking into tears during the speech. The 87-year-old Holocaust survivor Inge Auerbacher was a guest of honor.

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She spoke about her experience.

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Thursday hosts an online event called "The Difference between Life and Death: Choices That Saved a Young Boy." It features a conversation between Holocaust survivor Dr. Arye Ephrath and historian Enda Freidberg.

Germany's Parliament marks the day of remembrance with several events around the country.

"Our country bears a special responsibility, the genocide of the European Jews is a German crime, yet it is also a past which is relevant to all," Bundestag President Barbel Bas said in a speech.

Soldiers among visitors to Holocaust museum ahead of Remembrance Day

Visitors look at exhibits commemorating the genocide of 6 million Jews by the Nazi regime during World War II at Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, in Jerusalem on Sunday. International Holocaust Remembrance Day will be observed on Thursday, marking the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in 1945. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

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