The extermination of millions of Jewish people in the Second World War was a crime against all humankind, but it is not enough to simply remember the Holocaust, said Paul-Henri Rips, who was imprisoned in two Nazi camps and later authored the Holocaust memoir E/96: Fate Undecided.
“Our children must never become indifferent,” said Rips, who spoke on behalf of survivors at the National Holocaust Remembrance Day Ceremony at the Canadian War Museum yesterday.
“All people have a duty to remember and tell the story of the Holocaust. The Nazis’ intent was to erase all memory of the Jews.”
As the number of survivors dwindles, it is important to keep the stories alive and fight against the kind of hatred that inspired the Nazis to kill more than six million Jews during the war, added Fran Sonshine, national chair of the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem, which organized the event.
More than 70 members of the House of Commons and the Senate, ambassadors from more than 35 nations, and dozens of survivors attended the ceremony.
Speaking on behalf of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Peter Kent said all nations have a responsibility to be unequivocal in our condemnation of anti-Semitic despots, terrorists and fanatics.
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said the vigilance of the survivors of the Holocaust has spawned a greater awareness for the human rights of all people.
“We must stand with all democracies threatened by terror and hatred,” said Ignatieff. “And all Canadians regardless of party must rejoice in that violent, turbulent democracy we know and love called Israel.”
In his opening remarks, Rabbi Reuven Bulka said Jews should remember the Holocaust by denouncing evil and ensuring hatred has no sanction in their lives.