At Auschwitz-Birkenau Ceremony
Below are some of the remarks made by various world leaders present at this week’s Yom HaShoah ceremony at Auschwitz-Birkenau, including remarks by Janos Ader, the president of Hungary, who apologized for his country’s role in the Holocaust.
The ceremony also included the completion and dedication of a Torah scroll to be used at the Western Wall.
Janos Ader, President of Hungary: This place is Hungary’s largest cemetery. Their martyrdom is an eternal lesson for the whole of Europe and for all humanity. It is a constant source of pain to realize that the Hungarian State did not oppose this plan, but in fact became an accomplice to it. Hungary, which was occupied on the 19th of March 1944, failed to protect its own citizens. Its authorities collaborated with those who planned to exterminate our fellow compatriots. It is no excuse or explanation that this also happened in many other countries across Europe, because those who humiliated and sent our Jewish compatriots to their deaths also humiliated the entire Hungarian nation. There is no forgiveness for a state turning against its own citizens.
Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, Former Chief Rabbi of Israel, Former Chairman of Yad Vashem: Such a tragedy that you can see here will not be forgotten. Even when we are not here our future will be here, our children will be here, our great-great grandchildren will be here and they will tell the truth to mankind. The future in my eyes is for sure the future of remembrance, not forgetting, because how can you forget?
Irwin Cotler, Canadian MP and Former Minister of Justice and Attorney General: One person with the compassion to care and the courage to act can transform history. Each one of us can make a difference. What makes the Shoah and the Rwandan genocide so horrific is not only the horror of Shoah itself or the genocide itself but that both the Shoah and the Rwandan genocide were preventable. Nobody can say we did not know. We knew but we did not act.
Rabbi Dr. Elie Abadie, Leader of New York’s Edmund J. Safra Synagoue: The Holocaust is neither an Ashkenazi nor a Sephardi tragedy; it is a Jewish tragedy, and most importantly, it is the greatest human tragedy. In the Nazi scheme, no distinctions were made between Ashkenazim and Sephardim: all Jews were targeted for annihilation. v