The atrocity of the Holocaust stands out as unique in history for its cruelty, brutality and horror, for the vast scope of the Nazis’ genocidal plot, and for the systematic and bureaucratic way in which it was implemented — what philosopher Hannah Arendt called ‘the banality of evil’.
Today, on the 67th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp in occupied Poland, we remember the Holocaust’s victims. Six million Jews, including 1.5-million Jewish children, lost their lives during the Holocaust. That number represents one-third of the world’s Jewish population at the time. As well, millions of other European civilians were slaughtered because they belonged to groups of people deemed expendable, according to the Nazis’ heinous ideology.
Canada remains committed to fighting anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia, and to taking a leading international role in the promotion of Holocaust education and research. Canada’s efforts helped lead to the development of the Ottawa Protocol on Combating Anti-Semitism.
Next year, Canada will serve as Chair of the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research. It is a role we undertake with a sense of duty and pride.
In his speech accepting the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize, author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel said ‘Because I remember, I despair. Because I remember, I have the duty to reject despair.
The government encourages all Canadians to remember the victims of the Holocaust today and to honour their memory by rejecting all forms of hatred, intolerance and discrimination.
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