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"They stole a part of my childhood and most of my adolescence" recalled Elie Buzyn, who was ten years old at the time of Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939. Dagmar Lieblova and Elie Buzyn, two Holocaust survivors, were special guests at the ceremony held on the occasion of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day on 27 January in the Charlemagne building of the European Commission. Dagmar Lieblova was detained in Theresienstadt and Elie Buzyn in Litzmanstadt (today Lodz) ghetto before being deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. They were the only ones from their families to see the end of the war. Both Dagmar Lieblova and Elie Buzyn became successful professionals and in the past two decades dedicated their lives to providing testimonies on Holocaust. "There is not much time left, the youngest of us are almost eighty" stressed Dagmar Lieblova and underlined that it will be to those "who listen to us today" to keep the memory alive. It took him several decades before Elie Buzyn was able to speak about his time during Holocaust in public. Yet he considers it essential to raise awareness amongst young people of the tragic past as "it can all happen again and nothing can be taken for granted".
The commemoration ceremony was organized by the Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs and its Europe for Citizens programme in cooperation with the Paris based Mémorial de la Shoah. An important part of the commemoration is the exhibition “The Holocaust in Europe" offering a comprehensive overview of the Holocaust in Europe. The exhibition was provided by the Mémorial de la Shoah.
Dimitris Avramopoulos, Member of the European Commission for Home Affairs, Migration and Citizenship, opened the event. He stressed that Holocaust is not a closed chapter in European history. "It poses a question that each new generation will have to come to terms with. How is it that in the age of progress, technological and scientific advancement 6 million Europeans were reduced to ashes? He underlined that the best way we can honour the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust is to remain committed to the values upon which modern Europe is built – human dignity, freedom, democracy, the rule of law, the respect for human rights as well as tolerance, justice, solidarity and non-discrimination. We need to ensure that our society is inclusive, that young Europeans understand the past and that they become sensitive to any new forms of discrimination and racial hatred." He further referred to the importance of the implementation of EU legislation aiming to combat hate speech and hate crime, and to the importance of the interreligious dialogue.
The Deputy Head of the Israeli Mission to the European Union Mr. Ronen Gil-Or referred to worrying incidents of anti-Semitism in Europe and the need to support the European Shoah Legacy Institute (ESLI). He also invited the Commission to participate in the Jewish Forum in Israel in June 2015.
The event was concluded by Michal Frankl, Deputy-Director of the Jewish Museum in Prague, who spoke about passing the memory of Holocaust to the younger generations. He stressed that teaching about Holocaust cannot be a passive undertaking of providing facts and information but it should include an essential element of re-interpretation and should lead to the development of critical thinking and analytic skills that can be applied to critical issues of contemporary society.
The ceremony was accompanied by a concert produced by the Forum Voix Etouffées, Strasbourg, one of the major organisations of study and circulation of works from composers banned under European dictatorships, especially Nazism.
Pictures ©European Commission
You can view the complete testimonies of Dagmar Lieblova and Elie Buzyn at: http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/player.cfm?sitelang=en&ref=I098077
The Formal opening speech by Dimitris Avramopoulos, Member of the EC in charge of Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship: http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/player.cfm?sitelang=en&ref=I098076
Link to EBS pictures: http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/photo/photoByReportage.cfm?ref=027377&sitelang=en