“Holocaust remembrance must continue to guide our efforts, particularly as this year marks the 70th anniversary of the Council of Europe, an organisation born out of the ruins of the Second World War and with a mission that is still relevant today: to defend peace, democracy and respect for fundamental rights, which are unfortunately still under threat in Europe," said the PACE President at a ceremony held at the Council of Europe in memory of Holocaust victims.
“Today, we pay tribute to those who were victims of the Holocaust, but also to those who survived it, to their resilience and the courage they showed in telling their unspeakable stories. We also pay tribute to those who had the courage to oppose the killing frenzy by saving lives at the risk of their own," she continued, recalling the words of Paul Grüninger, a Swiss police commander in the border region of St. Gallen, who, by providing falsified identity papers, saved the lives of thousands of Jewish refugees fleeing Austria after it was annexed by Nazi Germany in 1938. Defending his conduct, Paul Grüninger said “Whoever had the opportunity, as I did, to witness those heart-rending scenes, the victims’ collapse, the cries of mothers and children, the suicide threats and attempts at suicide – that person could no longer comply.”
“These words give me hope. For while human beings are capable of the worst atrocities, they are also capable of compassion, courage and selflessness, risking their lives to defend human dignity and fundamental rights,” the President concluded.