Germans recall Holocaust victims, warn against denial (Roundup)
Jan 27, 2007, 16:05 GMT
Berlin - Germans held services around the country on Saturday to mark the annual Holocaust Memorial Day, while the country's Jewish community issued a stern warning about the danger of denying the crime in which some six million Jews were murdered.
Politicians led the way in the ceremonies at various Holocaust sites in marking the day set up to coincide with the January 27, 1945 liberation of the infamous Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz.
In Berlin, the Greens party laid a wreath at the Pulitzbruecke memorial, with party leader Claudia Roth saying, 'we are responsible for battling right-wing extremism, anti-Semitic and anti-foreigner attitudes.'
Pulitzbruecke was the former railway station used during World War II for the deportation of Berlin's Jews to concentration camps.
At the Buchenwald memorial site in the state of Thueringen, state premier Dieter Althaus in his speech called for stronger efforts against right-wing extremism and anti-foreigner sentiment. He said this was why there should be ongoing education about the Holocaust.
At the former concentration camp site Sachsenhausen outside of Berlin, Brandenburg state Premier Matthias Platzeck urged Germany's current soldiers to visit the memorial site.
He pointed out that during World War II, a number of Wehrmacht soldiers had been held there, tortured and murdered because they had 'followed their consciences and resisted the Nazis' murderous wars.'
Germany's Jewish community launched a campaign of full-page newspaper advertisements Saturday to stress the importance of the Holocaust Memorial Day and to attack efforts by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to deny it.
Headlined 'Auschwitz is the largest cemetery of humankind,' the ads run by the Central Council of German Jews warned against the threat emanating from Ahmadinejad, who has stirred controversy with remarks referring to the Holocaust as a 'legend.'
Ahmadinejad had 'many times denied the systematic disfranchisement, deportation and factory-scale annihilation of millions of European Jews,' the advertisement said.
It said that the nuclear programme pursued by Ahmadinejad and his regime of mullahs posed a 'threat not only to the Middle East but the entire world' and demanded that the German government should make no compromises with Iran regarding the issue of atomic weapons.
Outside of Germany, Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnick welcomed the UN resolution passed on Friday which opposes any denial of the Holocaust.
'This resolution is a cry against any attempt to deny the horror of the Shoa,' she said, using the Hebrew term given the Holocaust.
In Brussels, the president of the European parliament, Hans-Gert Poettering, called the Holocaust an 'abominable and tremendously painful side of this continent's history' which should never be forgotten.
'The crimes committed by the Nazis must be remembered by future generations as a warning against a genocide which should never be repeated,' he said.
Poettering, the newly-elected parliamentary president, added: 'On this day, we remember the millions of victims of the Holocaust, the murder of six million Jews as well as Roma, Poles, Russians and people of other nationalities.'
Holocaust Memorial Day was established in 1996 by former German President Roman Herzog as a day of remembrance for the victims of National Socialism. The date coincides with the liberation of the biggest concentration camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau on January 27, 1945.© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur