By: Jon Brunberg | posted: 1/28/2005 1:00:00 AM
The world commemorated yesterday January 27 the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps by the Soviet armed forces. Around thousand survivors of the concentration and extermination camps took part in a commemoration service in Auschwitz-Birkenau together with representatives from more than forty countries, including heads of state and leading ministers. A special session was also held at the United Nations in New York.
I have collected here only a few press voices about the commemorations that are indeed not only saying something about the terror of the holocaust but also of the time we live in today. Washington Post reports: "It is impossible and unfathomable to comprehend that people are capable of such atrocities," said Russian President Vladimir Putin. "Yet we see the railroad, which brought whole trains crammed with victims, and gas chambers with their incinerators thought out in every detail.... We will never stop asking ourselves over and over again the same question: How could this ever have happened?"
Expressions of concern from today's world leaders, who asked their colleagues and peoples never to forget the holocaust, also raised the question how we are dealing with the terrors of today.
"‘Never again!’ is how Pettigrew ended his eloquent speech, parroting the theme, started by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan", writes Marinka Peschmann, Special to Canada Free Press. "Earlier Annan declared that, 'Such an evil must never be allowed to happen again,' and urged the world body that, 'We must be on the watch for any revival of anti-Semitism, and ready to act against the new forms of it that are appearing today. The United Nations was ‘born out of the ashes of the Holocaust.’ But has the United Nations learned from World War II’s history? Doubtful if you consult people living in Rwanda, Bosnia, Cambodia, and Iraq who have suffered unimaginable horror, and bloodshed, since the day the Nazi's were destroyed, and as Pettigrew acknowledged, the ‘list of those damned by indifference goes on.’"
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes that the Israeli PM Katzav "called on Europe to anchor the remembrance of the mass murder in Auschwitz firmly in its political culture. Auschwitz must hold a central place in the collective consciousness of a united Europe". Maybe we can in Mr Katzav's speech find an explanation for the unwillingness of countries as France and Germany to join forces with Bush and Blair in the decision to invade Iraq. I would say that the Holocaust and the terrible bloodshed of WWII, is indeed very strong in the minds of most Europeans and as long as it remains strong the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive strike will be met with utter scepticism among many Europeans. It does not particularly help that senior US politicians like Paul Wolfowitz talks publicly about the necessity for "Total War". There are still people in Europe that remembers who used that expression first and what the consequences were.