World Remembers Holocaust Amid Fears Of Antisemitism

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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy

BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – ’s parliamentary speaker wept in the German parliament Thursday as he and survivors remembered the , or Shoah, amid fears of a resurgence of antisemitism.

Thursday’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day fell on the 77th anniversary of the liberation by Soviet troops of Auschwitz-Birkenau in occupied Poland, the most notorious Nazi death camp.

It was part of Nazi ’s plan to carry out its Final Solution seeking to murder the Jewish people of .

Israel’s parliamentary speaker, Mickey Levy, broke down in tears in the Bundestag while reciting the Jewish mourner’s from a prayer book. It belonged to a German Jewish boy who celebrated his bar mitzvah on the eve of Kristallnacht, an outburst of anti-Jewish violence in 1938.

Levy said that Israel and Germany experienced “an exceptional journey on the way to reconciliation and establishing relations and brave friendship between us.”

At the former Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, now a memorial site in Poland, a small number of survivors gathered in an auditorium.

SURGE

Attendance at the yearly event was sharply curtailed due to Europe’s coronavirus surge, organizers said. Others joined online.

Nazi German forces killed 1.1 million people at Auschwitz, most of them Jews, Poles, Roma, and others.

Halina Birenbaum, a 92-year-old Polish-born poet who lives in Israel, recalled her suffering remotely. She was 10 when the Germans invaded and occupied Poland in September 1939 and were 13 when she was taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau after being led out of the gas chamber of the Majdanek camp thanks to a malfunction.

“I saw masses of the powerful but arrogant army of Nazi Germany as they marched cruelly, victoriously, into the devastated and burning streets of Warsaw,” she recalled.

“The countless experiences of infinite suffering on the brink of death are already a distant, unimaginable story for new generations,” she said.

Commemorations everywhere took place amid a rise of antisemitism that gained traction during lockdowns as the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated hatred online, observers say.

GROWING ANTISEMITISM

German parliament speaker Baerbel Bas noted that the coronavirus pandemic acted “like an accelerant” to already burgeoning antisemitism.

“Antisemitism is here – it isn’t just on the extreme fringe, not just among the eternally incorrigible and a few anti-Semitic trolls on the net,” she said. “It is a problem of our society – all of society.”

The U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution in November 2005 establishing the annual commemoration as an attempt never to forget the systematic murder of some 6 million Jews.

It chose January 27 – the day Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1945. Halina Birenbaum, a 92-year-old Polish-born poet who lives in Israel, recalled her suffering remotely.

She was 10 when the Germans invaded and occupied Poland in September 1939 and were 13 when she was taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau after being led out of the gas chamber of the Majdanek camp thanks to a malfunction. “I saw masses of the powerful but arrogant army of Nazi Germany as they marched cruelly, victoriously, into the devastated and burning streets of Warsaw,” she recalled.

“The countless experiences of infinite suffering on the brink of death are already a distant, unimaginable story for new generations,” she said.

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