Speech by President von der Leyen at the International Holocaust Remembrance Day Commemoration of the European Jewish Congress

Met dank overgenomen van Europese Commissie (EC) i, gepubliceerd op woensdag 26 januari 2022.

Dear distinguished guests,

Members of the Jewish community,

Earlier this month, I joined President Macron in the Pantheon in Paris to honour two founding figures of the European Union.

Jean Monnet i and Simone Veil i.

When Simone Veil was just sixteen, she was arrested and sent to Auschwitz, because she was Jewish.

She survived Auschwitz.

Then in the winter of 1945, she was sent on a death march to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

Again she survived.

After the war, she dedicated her life to public service in France and to building a more just and humane world.

She cared deeply for human rights, and the rights of women.

Simone Veil became the first President of the European Parliament.

Having witnessed Europe's darkest hour, she helped build our future, as a founding Mother of the EU.

Today, we remember all those who survived, and the millions who perished in the Holocaust.

Antisemitism dehumanises the Jewish people.

It strips individuals of their rights and dignity.

In Nazi Germany, this dehumanisation opened the door to the Shoah.

We must never forget.

To remember is to make a stand to defend human dignity everywhere.

So today, we also look to the future.

After the war, Europe was built upon the promise of peace.

Of putting an end to hatred and ignorance.

But antisemitism is again on the rise.

It threatens Jewish communities in Europe.

This is why I presented the Commission's first-ever Strategy on combating antisemitism and fostering Jewish life in Europe.

Because Jewish life is an integral part of Europe's history and of Europe's future.

This is what Simone Veil fought for.

The uncompromising defence of human dignity, reason and moderation.

I still remember her powerful speech to the German Bundestag, on a Holocaust Remembrance Day almost twenty years ago.

An entire country paused to listen to her words.

She made us face the crimes, the horror, and the death of humanity.

A past that would never get past her.

She called on future generations to keep the memory alive.

"Parce que les jeunes auront la responsabilité de faire échec à tout ce qui pourrait conduire au même engrenage de la haine et de la violence."

If we protect the facts, we can break the cycle of hatred and violence.

Europe will remain United in diversity, faithful to the values of its founding Fathers and Mothers.

You can always count on the European Commission to stand by your side.