Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel issued the following statement on the occasion of this year’s Day of Remembrance for the Victims of National Socialism (27 January):
Seventy three years after the liberation of the Auschwitz extermination camp, it is still impossible to fathom the depths of the abyss that were the National Socialists’ crimes against humanity.
The pain over what people can do and have done to others, the grief and the memory of all those who were deprived of their dignity and livelihoods, persecuted, tortured, humiliated, murdered, will forever be a part of us.
While no one can turn back the wheel of history, each and every one of us can take responsibility for the future with a clear understanding of the warnings from our history, each day anew.
Commemorating the victims of National Socialism imposes a duty on us – to speak out against exclusion and hatred, against anti Semitism and all other forms of racism worldwide, and to promote respect for human rights, peace and reconciliation.
We have a special obligation to the survivors and eyewitnesses. They bequeath to us, the generations after them, the descendants of perpetrators and victims, whether they grew up in Germany or elsewhere, their story and the duty to learn our own most personal lessons from this. It is up to us to fight to keep this memory alive.
Since 1996, 27 January, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp in 1945, has been Germany’s official Day of Remembrance for the Victims of National Socialism. This occasion commemorates the six million European Jews killed, the Sinti and Roma, forced labourers, prisoners of war left to starve to death, people euthanised by the state, homosexuals, and all those who, for religious, political or simply humanitarian reasons, stood against the reign of terror and so fell victim to the strictures of the totalitarian regime.
In 2005, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution establishing this date as the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust.
The German Bundestag will hold a special ceremony to remember the victims of National Socialism at 1 p.m. on 31 January. The keynote speaker will be the cellist Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, the last known survivor of the Women’s Orchestra of Auschwitz.
Together with H.E. Jeremy Issacharoff, Ambassador of the State of Israel, Foreign Minister Gabriel will open the exhibition “Beyond Duty – Diplomats Recognised as Righteous Among the Nations” at the Federal Foreign Office on 29 January.