US President Barack Obama paid a tribute to Holocaust victims and survivors on Sunday, vowing "never again" and urging the world to resist "hate and persecution in all its forms" in a statement released on the International Holocaust Memorial Day.
Obama said the anniversary of the liberation of the largest Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau is "the time for action."
"The United States, along with the international community, resolves to stand in the way of any tyrant or dictator who commits crimes against humanity," he vowed.
"By remaining vigilant against those who seek to perpetrate violence and murder, we honor those we lost during one of the darkest periods in human history," Obama added.
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton also vowed not to forget in a statement released to mark the day. "Today we remember the victims of the Holocaust. We honor every one of the six million who were brutally murdered in this darkest period of European history," Ashton stated.
She stressed the importance of remembering that the crime was not perpetrated by a few individuals, but that many were involved directly and indirectly. "That is why we must remain vigilant. Genocide is caused by the violence of some and the indifference of others," she emphasized.
Ashton also said that Remembrance Day should be used as an opportunity to celebrate acts of courage and sacrifice: "neighbors who saved families, employers who rescued their employees and all those who protected their fellow citizens."
She described these acts as "proof that we are not powerless against evil," and as a lesson that must "guide us today."
Germany’s responsibility for crimes committed by the National Socialists will never expire, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday at an event to mark the 80th anniversary of Adolf Hitler’s accession to power, a day before International Holocaust Memorial Day.
Germany has an “everlasting responsibility for the crimes of National Socialism, for the victims of World War II and, above all, for the Holocaust,” Merkel said in a video message. “And this must be made clear from generation to generation and it must be said with bravery and moral courage, every individual can make a contribution so that racism and antisemitism have no chance.”
On January 30, Merkel will visit Berlin’s Topography of Terror Documentation Center, built on the foundations of the headquarters of the Secret State Police, the SS and the Reich Security Main Office, which were destroyed during the war.
Exactly 80 years earlier, Hitler, leader of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, was sworn in as chancellor by President Paul von Hindenburg. Two months later, a so-called Enabling Act allowed Hitler’s government to pass laws without parliamentary control and in violation of the constitution, paving the way for his dictatorship.
International Holocaust Memorial Day was set to be marked on Sunday in Israel and worldwide by various events.
A ceremony was due to be held in Yad Vashem Museum in Jerusalem at midday, while in Ashdod the day was to be commemorated with a show featuring songs about Holocaust survivors and composed by Israeli youth, Army Radio reported.