Remembering a Tragic Past Spurs Jewish Continuity in Europe Today

Remembering a Tragic Past Spurs Jewish Continuity in Europe Today

Photo Credit: Shturem

by Staff Writer

January 27, 2010

( European and Israeli state heads are this week meeting with Jewish leaders and Chabad representatives in Europe as they observe International Holocaust Remembrance Day, on the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu met with Chabad representatives in Poland, where he inscribed letters in a Torah scroll. Speaking in  Hebrew, the Prime Minister reflected on the fact that a Torah scroll is being written in Warsaw. “It moves my deeply,” he said. 

Netanyahu then visited Auschwitz, and addressed the main memorial event Wednesday afternoon.

Israel’s President Shimon Peres met with Chabad representatives to Germany, and spoke to the German Parliament in Berlin. Originally from Poland, his family moved to Palestine in 1934, but his grandfather remained behind and was later killed by the Nazis.

"I remember the last words and the order I heard from his mouth: 'My boy, always remain a Jew'," he said.

On Monday, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin met with his country’s Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar. They spoke of Red Army’s liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Among other issues, the two discussed the problem of revisionism of the history of the Second World War, as well as the construction of the Museum of Jewish History.

"I am following very closely what is happening in the world, especially the problems associated with the distortion of history and the denial of the Holocaust,” said Mr. Putin.

“Let me say that, certainly in regard to preserving the memory of the victims of Nazism and in regard to the preservation of information about the genuinely tragic events of World War II, Jewish organizations have always been our staunch ally."

The President further noted that "we have seen an attempt to rewrite history during the removal of the [“Bronze soldier”] monument in Tallinn, and we are seeing this in other regions of the world, where similar attempts have been made to revise the truth about the tragedy of the Second World War. On this issue, we absolutely agree with you, and I would like to thank you for that."

The Chief Rabbi offered that the Jews will “never forget what the Red Army did for us during World War II. We need to speak about how things were in reality because, unfortunately, what we have been seeing as of recent in Ukraine is frightening. 

“Nazism is evil not only because the Nazis murdered, but because they tried to justify their actions," he noted.

Rabbi Lazar also apprised the Prime Minister Putin about developments on the construction of the Museum of Jewish History and Tolerance. "Despite the world financial crisis, the project that – with your support - we had planned, has been started. We have very reason to believe that the museum will open in two years, as originally scheduled," he stated.

The Museum of Jewish History and Tolerance will house exhibitions galleries, a library, a research center, and conference rooms dedicated to the history of Jewish civilization. Its stated mission is to cultivate respect and understanding among different cultures and religions.

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