Holocaust Memorial to become official EP event

- No room for anti-Semitism in the EU, declares EP

President Brussels, 23rd January, 2013 - It all started nine years ago in January 2005, when the European Coalition for Israel, together with MEP Hannu Takkula, hosted the first Holocaust Remembrance Day event in the European Parliament in Brussels, to honour victims of the Holocaust. On Tuesday night, the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, announced that International Holocaust Remembrance Day has been declared an official European Parliament event which will continue to be commemorated in the European Parliament, regardless of who is president. The EP presidency rotates every five years, but has in latter years been divided into two and half year periods. All the last three presidents have been personally committed to honouring the victims of the Holocaust, but there are other elected members who are more critical.

 ”There is no room for anti-Semitism in the European Union” Schulz stated on Tuesday night at the 9th Annual Holocaust Remembrance Day in the European Parliament. He added: There are those elected members, in national parliaments, as well as in the European Parliament, who call the Holocaust a myth or a detail of history, but they are a small minority.

”The great majority of the elected members will not tolerate open denial of the Shoah. If that happens we will simply point them to the door”, he promised in his speech.

Last year President Schulz announced that his first effort as president was to ban Holocaust denial in the European Parliament.

Whereas the President of the European Parliament focused on the rise of anti-Semitism and intolerance in Europe, the Jewish speakers also expressed their concern over the current nuclear threat to Israel. ”We cannot tolerate the fact that a lunatic who denies the very existence of the Holocaust can acquire a nuclear bomb”, said Dr. Samuel Pisar, renowned international lawyer, Holocaust survivor and Special Envoy to UNESCO. Pisar was making reference to the Iranian leader and infamous Holocaust denier, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

”Within one year, this dictator is expected to have nuclear capabilities”, warned Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress.

He went on to say that ”this is neither 1933 (the rise to power of Hitler) nor 1942 (the year of the Wannsee Conference) but 1929 - the year of the Great Depression. ”When people are facing financial uncertainty, they start looking for scapegoats”, he said. However, Schulz seemed more optimistic.

”This is 2013, and the difference is that we now have European institutions which are committed to safeguarding the fundamental values of tolerance, dignity and respect. The great majority will not accept anti-Semitism.”

The event also honoured the Swedish diplomat and businessman, Raoul Wallenberg. He saved tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Nazis at the end of the Second World War, by issuing protective passports and offering shelter in buildings designated as Swedish territory. On Tuesday, members of the family were present in the European Parliament, as a conference room was named after him by President Schulz and Nane Annan, the niece of Raoul Wallenberg. Her cousin Louise von Dardel spoke about her uncle who she had never met, but admired deeply. She made a direct appeal to the European Parliament to make a formal request to the Russian authorities for an inquiry into what actually happened to Wallenberg after he disappeared in Budapest at the end of the war. Several speakers mentioned the fate of Wallenberg as an example of the fact that you cannot defeat evil - Nazism - with another form of evil, namely Communism. Raoul Wallenberg was last seen in 1945 in the company of Soviet officials.

In a private interview with ECI, President Schulz urged civil society organisations such as ECI, to work with the European Parliament to raise awareness of the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe.

The Holocaust Memorial in the European Parliament was the first event of the week with ECI as one of the co-organisers. In the next few days, there will be similar ECI events in Berlin, Munich and Auschwitz, where ECI Chairman, Harald Eckert, is taking part. The ECI-sponsored exhibition by Perry Trotter, “Shadows of Shoah”, will be officially launched at a high-profile national event on Friday in Auckland, New Zealand. Additional events are planned across Europe as well as in Japan, Africa and North America.

For the past eight years, ECI has called upon churches and faith communities in Europe and beyond, to honour the victims of the Holocaust in their Sunday services nearest to the 27th. This year, Holocaust Remembrance Day is marked on January 27th. Shadows of Shoah is the work of New Zealand artist Perry Trotter. Using black and white imagery and original music, survivors´ experiences are presented in a brief but compelling format. Shadows of Shoah is a powerful and evocative piece of art, while carefully maintaining historical accuracy. The on-line exhibition can be viewed on www.learnfromhistory.eu


ECI teams up with unique exhibition to reach new generation with personal accounts of Holocaust survivors

Brussels, January 10th, 2013 - "The systematic murder of millions of European Jews must not be reduced to a faceless statistic or historic anomaly."

These are the words of New Zealand artist Perry Trotter who has developed an exhibition to communicate the gravity of Holocaust in a unique way. It is entitled Shadows of Shoah. Using photography and original music, selected episodes from survivors' experiences are presented in a brief, compelling format. To reach a new generation for whom the Holocaust holds little relevance or significance, powerful and evocative art has been produced while maintaining historical accuracy.

ECI has teamed up with Perry Trotter to help disseminate Shadows of Shoah video presentations from the online exhibition to its constituency in Europe and beyond. Special efforts will be made to reach young people.

In 2007, then European Commissioner, Jan Figel from Slovakia spoke at the ECI hosted International Holocaust Remembrance Day event in Brussels. In his speech he noted that "the greatest challenge is to keep the memory alive among the new generations who have little or no knowledge about the atrocities during the Holocaust."

"The Holocaust is not only a tragedy of the past but something which we must be reminded of again and again in order not to repeat the mistakes of the past", he said.

Already in 1997 a Swedish survey found that many of the young people were not convinced that the Holocaust had actually taken place.

The launch of the Shadows of Shoah exhibition is part of a new effort of ECI to reach the next generation with the urgent message of the Holocaust. "If we do not say no to anti-Semitism, in time, one day it will be too late. "

Contrary to previous years, the 'Learn from History' campaign 2013 will not end on International Holocaust Remembrance day, January 27th, but rather be fully launched on that day in churches and faith groups around. The exhibition will be kept online throughout the year, enabling youth groups and others to access the exhibition and make use of the material at their own convenience.

The exhibition will be updated with new video presentations on a regular basis in order to provide as many personal testimonies as possible about the human suffering during the Holocaust. The short film clips can be screened in church meetings and other commemoration events on Sunday 27th January and throughout the year.

The online exhibition can be viewed on www.learnfromhistory.eu