- The Washington Times - Friday, January 28, 2005

”Never again.” That’s what Western leaders pledged about the Holocaust’s millions of innocents murdered, and on Thursday, the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz Nazi death camps, world leaders again echoed that sentiment.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder reflected on the duty to remain vigilant and on the great evils of the Nazi era. “Remembering the era of National Socialism and its crimes is a moral obligation — we owe that not only to the victims, the survivors and the relatives, but to ourselves,” he said.

At a ceremony held on the grounds at Auschwitz, European Union Parliament President Josep Borrell said the Holocaust was “something which should never happen again,” while Jacques Chirac, the first French leader to acknowledge his nation’s guilt in the Holocaust, pledged that the EU would stand against anti-Semitism. Newly elected Ukrainian President Viktor

Yuschchenko, whose father survived Auschwitz, said, “There will never be a Jewish question in my country, I vow that.” A Vatican emissary read a statement from the pope, while Vice President Dick Cheney, Britain’s Prince Edward and Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, among others, listened on.

The unanimity of sentiment among Western leaders is touching, but it’s perhaps not as reassuring given some recent incidents. In the United Kingdom, for example, the Muslim Council of Britain boycotted the Auschwitz commemorations this week, purportedly on grounds of inclusivity. Iqbal Sacranie, the group’s secretary-general, said commemorating Auschwitz “excludes ongoing genocide and human rights abuses around the world and in the occupied territories of Palestine,” and therefore deserves a boycott. Khalid Mahmood, a Muslim member of parliament, criticized such thinking. “Anybody who is interested in human rights should support this remembrance,” he said.

Meanwhile, sadly, polls and anecdotal evidence suggest that even in the heart of Europe, people are forgetting about the Holocaust, or worse. In a recent poll in Germany, 62 percent of 3,000 questioned said they were “sick of all the harping on about German crimes against the Jews.” Things are only slightly better in the United Kingdom, where a recent poll showed that a quarter of junior-high school-aged children don’t know what Auschwitz was and only 17 percent knew that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust.

As one horrified British observer said of the German poll, “It raises fears that the current generation are not ready to pass on the history and lessons learned from those events to their children.”

He’s right. If we cannot pass on the history and the lessons learned, our pledges of “never again” will have been in vain.



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