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Holocaust Remembrance Day: statement by Petra Bayr

The Holocaust Remembrance Day, 27 January 2023

On the occasion of Holocaust Remembrance Day, 27 January 2023, Petra Bayr (Austria, SOC) today made the following statement:

“Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorating the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp on 27 January 1945, is the day to honour the victims of the Nazi regime and their allies and collaborators. In doing so, we remember the deaths of over two-thirds of Europe’s Jewish community and of vast numbers of Roma and Sinti people, LGBTI people, Jehovah’s Witnesses, persons with disabilities, politicians, and Resistance members.

Crucially, it is also the opportunity to renew our commitment to fight relentlessly against racism and intolerance in any form, but today let us focus on the dangers of antisemitism. A few decades ago, this scourge seemed to be declining, repudiated by politicians and viewed as socially inacceptable. In reality, it had never disappeared. Today, antisemitism is rife, it manifests itself in new and insidious forms and, far from declining, it is on the rise. Deeply entrenched stereotypes and prejudice intersect with emerging myths and conspiracy ideologies. They pollute public discourse and spread hate in online communication. Antisemitism harms Jewish people directly and, undermining peaceful living together, it affects society at large.

“Never again”: keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive is crucial to prevent history from repeating itself, as ever fewer survivors remain with us to bravely share their terrible experience. The memory of this tragic page in history shows us that prejudice, stigmatisation, dehumanisation and demonisation inevitably lead to an escalation of intolerance and violence. Culture and education are among the most effective tools to counter this process.

On this day, we join our voices and call on the authorities of Council of Europe member States to preserve and pass on to new generations the memory of the Holocaust, to make teaching about it a priority in school programmes, and to combat the trivialisation, distortion or denial of it. Fostering Jewish life in Europe, by sharing information about Jewish culture and traditions and supporting Jewish educational and cultural structures is also crucial. Our goal must be to create a European society that not only tolerates, but also embraces and celebrates diversity.”