A world that remembers the Holocaust. A world without genocide
On Sunday evening, ministers and representatives of 35 countries gathered in Brussels to reaffirm their commitment to this vision with the 2020 IHRA Ministerial Declaration.
The declaration is presented at a crucial time. "As we see the global rise of antisemitism taking new forms," said Jean Asselborn, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Luxembourg and host of the meeting, "it is more urgent than ever that national governments come together and confront this evil."
National representatives had been invited by the Luxembourg Chairmanship of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, and many ministers took the opportunity to condemn the increasing violence and threats against Jews in their countries. Deputy Prime Minister of Bulgaria, Ekaterina Zaharieva, spoke for everyone present when she said that "hate and intolerance will not be part of our future." Markus Seiler, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Secretary General from Switzerland, added that "we need to adopt the ministerial declaration, but we need to do much more than that. We need to commit ourselves relentlessly in our daily lives, in our domestic policy, to implementing it."
The 2020 reaffirmation of the Stockholm Declaration comes a week before the historic commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and extermination camp in the final months of the Second World War in Europe. In addition, the adoption of the Ministerial Declaration takes place just days after the adoption of the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism by Italy, as well as by the Chelsea Football Club, a sports team followed by millions around the globe.
"The world will hold you responsible for following up"
Before the official adoption of the IHRA Ministerial Declaration, the room fell silent in respect as the representatives heard statements from survivors of the Holocaust. First from Edith Bruck, a prize-winning Hungarian-Italian author and film director who survived the Auschwitz-Birkenau, Dachau, and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps, and then from Robert Badinter, a French lawyer, professor, and former Minister of Justice who survived the Holocaust in France.
While Bruck underlined the imperative to speak and write about the Holocaust that has defined her life and career as an author, Badinter relayed the grave concern of both survivors, when he warned that the “embers of hatred are glowing just beneath the surface.”
IHRA Honorary Chairman Yehuda Bauer then addressed the meeting as the final speaker of the evening. To all gathered at the table, Professor Bauer sent an unmistakable warning about the temptation to rewrite the past and distort the memory of the Holocaust for national gain. “In all distortion, there is some element of truth,” he said, referring to the question of guilt and complicity in the Holocaust, and cautioning his listeners not to exaggerate the virtuous acts of the rescuers and understate the crimes of the murderers.
Speaking of its importance for coming generations, Professor Bauer made it clear that the work does not end with the Declaration:
There is some hope in this declaration, because it turns to the future. It promises something … The world will hold you responsible for following up – and that won't be easy.
For more photos from the event, please visit 2020 IHRA Ministerial Declaration adopted in Brussels.