We should reaffirm today that never again will we be indifferent to
racism and hate; that never again will we be silent in the face of evil;
that never again will we ignore the plight of the vulnerable;
that never again will we acquiesce in the face of mass atrocity and
impunity. We will speak and we will act against racism, against hate,
against anti-Semitism, against mass atrocity, against injustice
—and against the crime whose name we should shudder even to mention:
May this day be not only an act of remembrance, which it is,
but a reminder to act, which it must be.
~ The Hon. Irwin Cotler ~
The Holocaust was one of the most horrifying and shameful periods in the history of humankind wherein the Jews as a people were systematically persecuted and murdered by the Nazis under Adolf Hitler, resulting in the death of six million of them, from 1941 to 1945. The Nazis believed that the German race was a superior one, and they deemed the Jews as inferior, and a threat to the racial purity of the Germans. They came up with a dastardly plan, known as the ‘final solution’, wherein they incarcerated millions of Jews in concentration camps, where they lived and died in inhuman conditions.
Apart from the Jews, the Nazis also targeted other ethnic groups because they thought them to be racially inferior too, such as the Roma Gypsies, physically and mentally disabled people living in institutions, Slavic people like the Russians, Poles, and so on. Some others were also subjected to persecution on the basis of their behavioral, ideological, and political backgrounds, such as homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Socialists, and Communists. However, it was the Jews that were the primary victims of the Nazis, and the Holocaust is associated with just their plight by many scholars.
This kind of mindless inhumanity is recurring again with the ugly events all over the world. From Syria and Iraq to Libya and Yemen, the cultural and religious fabric in the Middle East, intricately woven over centuries, is being torn apart by Islamic fanatics intent on eliminating the very diversity that had given rise to many of the world’s great civilizations. We decry the intolerance, violent extremism and religious and ethnic persecution that have gained ground in the Middle East, notably against Christians, Yezidis, Kurds, Turkmens, Shabaks and Jews. It appears that another genocide is unfolding.
Holocaust Remembrance Day is an important time to reflect upon a tragedy that is at once entirely singular, and yet also indicative of mankind’s lasting capacity for extreme cruelty. Preventing racism, hatred, war, and genocide are ongoing projects for the world. Remembering the Holocaust is essential in 2017, as we in Canada and around the world work to build societies that are more tolerant, more peaceful and free.
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