World Holocaust Forum

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The World Holocaust Forum (also World Forum "Let My People Live!") is a series of events aiming at preserving memories of Holocaust atrocities.

Four World Forums have already been held. The first one was held in 2005 in Kraków (Poland).

In order to organise and support the World Forum, a special foundation was established in 2005 under the chairmanship of Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress and Chair of the Forum's Organising Committee.

First World Forum[edit]

The First World Forum "Let My People Live!" was held in 2005 in Kraków (Poland) to mark 60 years since the liberation of the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. The First Forum was attended by over 20 official delegations led by their heads of state, among them President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, President of Israel Moshe Katsav, President of Poland Aleksander Kwaśniewski, and Vice President of the United States of America Richard Cheney. The first World Forum received widespread media coverage.[1][2]

Second World Forum[edit]

The Second World Forum "Let My People Live!" was held in 2006 in Kiev under the auspices of President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko to commemorate 65 years since the Babi Yar tragedy. The Forum was attended by over 1,000 people from 60 countries, including representatives of international political and public organisations, among them the UN, the European Union, the Council of Europe, the World Jewish Congress, the European Jewish Congress, the American Jewish Congress, the European Jewish Fund, etc.[3]

The World Holocaust Forum Declaration was adopted at the end of the Second Forum and calls for preserving memories about the tragic events of World War II and uniting efforts in the fight against xenophobia, anti-Semitism and international terrorism.[4]


Holocaust Remembrance Days in Brussels[edit]

On January 25, 2011 at the European Parliament in Brussels on the eve of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day there took place a commemoration meeting devoted to the memory of the Holocaust. It was timed to the 66th anniversary of the liberation of concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau by the Soviet Army. Among principal organizers of the event were the European Jewish Congress, the European Jewish Community Center, the European Coalition for Israel, as well as the European Parliament and the Information and Diaspora Ministry of Israel. The President of the European Jewish Congress Moshe Kantor, the President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek, the Information and Diaspora Minister of Israel Yuli Edelstein, the Chief Rabby of Tel Aviv Yisrael Meir Lau addressed the audience of those who came to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust. Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy became the guest of honour at this event.

Second Holocaust Remembrance Day[edit]

The next Holocaust Remembrance Day was held on January 24, 2012 at the European Parliament building in Brussels, under the patronage of the European Parliament President.[5] This event was timed to 70 years since the Wannsee Conference and 50 years since the end of the trial of Adolf Eichmann. Among the guests of this event were the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, Israel's Minister for Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Yuli Edelstein, as well as many other European officials and ambassadors.[6]

Commemorative events for International Holocaust Remembrance Day were also held at the European Parliament in 2013 and 2014. In 2013,[7] an important feature of the event was the personal patronage of President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, who declared International Holocaust Remembrance Day an official annual event for the European Parliament starting in 2013.

Third World Forum "Let My People Live!"[edit]

The third World Forum "Let My People Live!" took place on January 27, 2010 in Kraków, Poland and was dedicated to the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. The third World Holocaust Forum was aimed at preserving memories of the events of World War II, creating connections between the past and the future and preventing any recurrence of the tragedies of the past. President of the European Jewish Congress Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor was the leader and organiser of the project.[8]

The Forum was the first in a long list of commemorative events planned for 2010 to observe the 65th anniversary of victory in World War II. The Forum was a starting point of political significance meant to attract the attention of the global community and remind the public of the unparalleled united struggle by members of the Allied coalition against fascism and the decisive role of the Soviet Union in Europe's liberation.

The Forum was attended by a group of 100 European Parliament deputies headed by Jerzy Buzek, representatives of other European institutions and official delegations from around the world. Ivan Martynushkin and Yakov Vinnichenko, both World War II veterans and liberators of Auschwitz-Birkenau, were among the Forum's honorary guests.[9]

The third "Let My People Live!" World Forum was addressed by the following participants:

EJC President, leader and organizer of the Forum Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor

U.S. President Barack Obama[11] and President of France Nicolas Sarkozy[12] sent their messages to the Forum. Both leaders' addresses called for the world community to always remember the tragedies of the past and suggested that memory should factor into policy.

The main result of the Forum was an announcement of the initiative to establish a new special educational and research institution, a Pan-European University of Global Security and Tolerance. The key objective of the new organisation will be to assist the international community in its struggle for global security in the face of challenges posed by extremism. The University will be focused on arranging cross-cultural educational and instructional programmes designed to harmonise the development of international cooperation and education.[13] 8.01.2010]

Fourth International "Let My People Live!" Forum[edit]

On 26–27 January 2015, the Fourth International "Let My People Live!" Forum was held in Prague and Terezín (Czech Republic) to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.[14] Several hundred distinguished guests, including heads of state, political leaders, members of parliament, diplomats, scholars and public figures from many countries, one of few surviving Auschwitz-Birkenau liberators Leonty Brandt, former prisoners of the concentration camps and Holocaust survivors attended the event.

The two-day event consisted of two major parts, the Forum of World Civil Society held at Prague Castle and the commemorative ceremony in Terezín, focused on remembering the past and reflecting on the present at a time when rising anti-Semitism and intolerance pose a threat not only to the survival of Jewish communities in Europe, but also to the security of Europe as a whole.

The Forum, organised by the European Jewish Congress and the World Holocaust Forum Foundation with the European Parliament and its President Martin Schulz, was attended by over 900 guests, including 30 official delegations and representatives of parliaments, European heads of state and international celebrities, experts and scholars, who gathered together at Prague Castle to participate in three discussion panels focused on anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism and religious radicalism.

Well-known U.S. human rights activist Abraham Foxman, historian and Yale University professor Timothy David Snyder, French writer and philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy, head of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey Cemil Çiçek, President of the Chamber of Deputies of Romania Valeriu Zgonea and other preeminent individuals attended the Forum's first day. Russia was represented by Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Ilyas Umakhanov and President of the World Public Forum Dialogue of Civilizations Vladimir Yakunin.

President of European Jewish Congress Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, speaker of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Parliament Jan Hamáček and President of the Czech Senate Milan Štěch addressed the audience.

On 27 January 2015, Czech President Miloš Zeman hosted the final session of the Forum and official ceremony to commemorate the Holocaust's victims. The National Philharmonic of Russia, 98 musicians under the direction of Vladimir Spivakov, performed the Yellow Stars concerto for orchestra by Isaac Schwartz accompanied by video about the Holocaust history. After the on-line minute of silence linking three other concentration camps, guests were invited to participate in the commemorative ceremony in Theresienstadt,[15] a concentration camp that served as a transit station on the way to other death camps. Theresienstadt inmates included many musicians, composers, cartoonists and poets, who maintained their art by publishing Vedem magazine. World-famous cantor Joseph Malovany and Oscar winner Sir Ben Kingsley performed during the ceremony.

At the conclusion of the Fourth International Holocaust Forum, participants adopted a Declaration on Combating Anti-Semitism and Hate Crimes.[16]

Fifth World Holocaust Forum[edit]

On January 23, 2020 in Jerusalem, Israel, was held the Fifth World Holocaust Forum, entitled “Remembering the Holocaust, Fighting Antisemitism”. The forum was attended by 49 high-level delegations.[17] The organizer and initiator of the Forum was the President of the World Holocaust Forum Foundation and President of the European Jewish Congress, Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor, in cooperation with Yad Vashem, under the auspices of the President of the State of Israel, Reuven Rivlin.[18]

The Forum was timed to coincide with the 75th anniversary of liberation the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau by the Red Army (January 27, 1945) and the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.[18]

Among the leaders who took part in the event were: President of Russia Vladimir Putin, Vice President of The United States Mike Pence, President of France Emmanuel Macron, President of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier, President of Italy Sergio Mattarella, President of Austria Alexander Van der Bellen, his Royal Highness Prince Of Wales Charles, Speaker of The United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, leaders from Albania, Armenia, Australia, Argentina, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine and the representative of the Holy See Cardinal Kurt Koch.[18]

Controversy[edit]

Polish President Andrzej Duda refused to participate in the event because he was not given the opportunity to speak.[19] He has criticized the event for giving the speaking slot to Russian president Vladimir Putin, who has in recent weeks criticized Poland with regard to its WWII record.[20] President Gitanas Nauseda of Lithuania has endorsed President's Duda position and also withdrew from the summit.[20]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Declaration of the First World Forum “Let My People Live!”, Krakow, January 27, 2005
  2. ^ Smith, Craig S. (January 27, 2005). "World Leaders Gather for Auschwitz Ceremony" – via NYTimes.com.
  3. ^ "Ukraine remembers Jewish massacre". September 26, 2006 – via news.bbc.co.uk.
  4. ^ Declaration of the Second “Let My People Live!” World Forum, Kiev, September 27, 2006
  5. ^ "Honour for rescuers of Jews as International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2013 marked – but concern at anti-Semitism in Europe". January 26, 2013.
  6. ^ Holocaust Remembrance Day Marked At European Parliament in Brussels / World Holocaust Forum, January 26, 2012
  7. ^ "Holocaust Remembrance Day: remembering what should never be forgotten | News | European Parliament". www.europarl.europa.eu. January 27, 2013.
  8. ^ "EU parliament president commemorates Holocaust, The Parliament.com, 28.01.2010".
  9. ^ "Anti-Semitism in Poland shows need for Holocaust education, Haaretz, 28.01.2010".
  10. ^ "Krakow Hosts the Third "Let My People Live!" International Forum, 27.01.2010".
  11. ^ "Survivors mark liberation of Auschwitz". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2020-01-22.
  12. ^ "Sarkozy: Auschwitz, symbol of evil, not forgotten". Ynetnews. 2010-01-27. Retrieved 2020-01-22.
  13. ^ Iran has same plan as Hitler, says Auschwitz survivor, The Times, 28.01.2010
  14. ^ "70 years later: Universal lessons for our time".
  15. ^ Cameron, Rob (2015-01-28). "Anti-Semitism exposes legal gaps in Europe". BBC News. Retrieved 2020-01-22.
  16. ^ "European parliaments' speakers sign declaration against anti-Semitism". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 2015-01-27. Retrieved 2020-01-22.
  17. ^ "World Holocaust Forum events set to start with leaders of 49 countries". The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com. Retrieved 2020-01-23.
  18. ^ a b c "List of Leaders of Nations Attending the Fifth World Holocaust Forum taking place at Yad Vashem". Yad Vashem: World Holocaust Remembrance Center. 2020-01-21. Retrieved 2020-01-24.
  19. ^ Welle (www.dw.com), Deutsche. "Poland's Duda to forego Holocaust memorial event in Israel | DW | 07.01.2020". DW.COM. Retrieved 2020-01-22.
  20. ^ a b Halbfinger, David M.; Kershner, Isabel (2020-01-22). "Live Updates: World Leaders Gather in Israel, 75 Years After Holocaust". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-01-22.

External links[edit]