International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust
More than sixty years have passed since the tragic events and the millions of deaths which this International Day invites us to commemorate. Countless other lives have been destroyed during these sixty years, in which there has been no shortage of atrocities.
This international day recalls a historical reality that is of universal significance. It invites us to reflect on the inconceivable, the systematic persecution and extermination, in the heart of modern Europe, of millions of human beings condemned by the mere fact of being born, and on what made possible such murderous obsession. The inconceivable happened and can therefore happen again, in different forms and with different victims as well.
Today our thoughts are with the millions of victims of the Holocaust, with their families and with the survivors. However, we need to do more than simply preserve the memory.
With the passage of time, memories become blurred. But there are some human beings who are trying to erase even the possibility of remembering. The Nazis tried to destroy the extermination camps, and in some cases, such as Sobibór , they succeeded. Even today, some organizers of international conferences are trying to persuade us that the Holocaust did not take place. By doing so, they are not only insulting the victims in an inadmissible manner but also violating the principles and values by which the international community has developed since 1945.
In order not only to combat such distortions but also to prevent them, there is one area in which action is crucially important - education. Since 2004, the Day of Commemoration of the Holocaust and of the Prevention of Crimes against Humanity has been organized in Swiss educational establishments. I commend the efforts that have been made so far. But I also invite all teachers to pursue these efforts resolutely.
Preserving the collective memory of history makes sense only if this effort is rooted in a moral and civic dimension. In Switzerland, several efforts are being made in this direction in addition to the school event itself. The denial of the Holocaust was enshrined in the Criminal Code following a popular vote. This instrument is very effective and must be maintained. Recognition for persons who helped victims of national socialism has been strengthened by the establishment of the Parliamentary Rehabilitation Commission. It has restored the good name and the dignity of several dozen people, though unfortunately this was in many cases done posthumously.
Today I would particularly like to thank those institutions and persons who are taking part in efforts to prevent racism and persecution. At the present time, it is clear that these efforts must be unremittingly pursued by each and every one of us.