Remember Holcaust survivors before they are all gone, urges Merkel






Berlin - German Chancellor Angela Merkel marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Saturday with a plea to record and preserve the voices of survivors, as advanced age claims more of them every year.



 
That means investing more into memorials and finding ways to record their voices so future generations can hear about the horrors of the Nazi effort to wipe out Europe's Jews in the 1930s and 1940s, Merkel said in a video message.
Efforts also have to be made to make sure the information is presented in a way that maximizes educational value, she said.
The chancellor also said it was necessary to upgrade school curricula to make sure anti-Semitism is not seen as an option, especially among recent immigrants who may come from countries that look down on Jews or even consider the Holocaust to be fictional.
"Anti-Semitism is not part of our society. It plays no part in integration," she said.
Merkel said it was an outrage that Jewish institutions in Germany still needed special police protection, adding that anti-Semitism, xenophobia and other forms of hate are on the rise.
Hanni Levy, speaking at a Green Party conference in Hanover, echoed those sentiments.
"People once said the Jews were to blame for everything. Today it's the refugees," said the 93-year-old who survived the Holocaust by hiding in Berlin.
"We should never forget how hard it is for people to leave everything behind so they can survive."
German society has been divided about refugees ever since Merkel, in 2015, announced an open door policy, prompting a surge of refugees into Germany. The move angered many conservatives, though many liberal groups have lauded it as the only humane course of action.
Separately, German Jewish leader Charlotte Knobloch lamented the rise of the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party ahead of the day.
Knobloch, former president of Germany's Central Council of Jews, reiterated her dismay at the AfD entering the Bundestag, the federal parliament in Berlin, in remarks published in the Saturday edition of the Passauer Neue Presse newspaper.
"It is painful [to see] that a party that tolerates manipulation of historical fact and anti-Semitism as well as racism, right-wing extremism and extreme nationalism could become the third-strongest in parliament," Knobloch said.
She spoke of a "destructive, anti-modern, anti-democratic and anti-liberal force" which "questions a collective societal consensus on the lessons of the 21st century."
Knobloch called this "a threat to democracy."
The Alternative for Germany gained 92 seats in the Bundestag in national parliamentary elections in September 2017 and also holds seats in 14 of 16 regional parliaments.
But Knobloch also warned of a strong and aggressive anti-Semitic sentiment coming from "Muslims who live here."
She called on Muslim organizations in Germany to stamp out anti-Semitism in their midst.
January 27 marks Holocaust Remembrance Day because it marks the anniversary of the day Soviet troops liberated the Nazi-operated Auschwitz death camp in Poland.

 


Saturday, January 27th 2018
By Torsten Holtz and Jan-Uwe Ronnenburger,
           


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