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In observance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, AJC issued the statement below, and re-released its short film on the Nazi death camp, Belzec. More than 500,000 Jews were slaughtered there in less than a year. Only two Jews survived. The full text of AJC’s statement follows:
In the Jewish tradition, we are commanded to remember (zachor) and not to forget (lo tishkach). On January 27, we commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On this solemn occasion, 67 years after the liberation of Auschwitz:
We remember the six million Jewish martyrs, including 1.5 million children, who were exterminated in the Holocaust.
We remember the entirely new alphabet created by the Nazis for the Final Solution — from the letter “A” for Auschwitz to the letter “Z” for Zyklon-B.
We remember not only the tragic deaths of the six million Jews, but also their vibrant lives—as shopkeepers and craftsmen, scientists and authors, teachers and students, parents and children, husbands and wives.
We remember the richly hued and ancient Jewish civilizations that were destroyed—from Salonika to Vilna, from Amsterdam to Prague.
We remember the slippery slope that began with the rantings of an obscure Austrian-born anti-Semite named Adolf Hitler and led, in the course of less than 15 years, to his absolute control over Germany.
We remember the fertile soil of European anti-Semitism—cultivated over centuries by cultural, political, and religious voices—that created an all-too-receptive climate for the Nazi objective of eliminating the Jewish people.
We remember the courage of Denmark, as well as Albania, Bulgaria, and Finland, for their extraordinary efforts to protect their own Jewish communities.
We remember the courage of thousands of Righteous Persons—whom we call, in Hebrew, Hasidei Umot Ha’olam—who risked their own lives that others might live.
We remember the millions of non-Jews—Poles and Russians, Roma and the disabled, political opponents and homosexuals—murdered under the relentless Nazi onslaught.
We remember the valiant soldiers of the Allied nations who, at such great human cost, vanquished the Third Reich.
We remember the survivors of the death camps, who endured such unimaginable suffering and who have inspired us all with their indomitable courage, spirit, and will to live.
We remember the absence of an Israel in those war-time years—an Israel that, had it existed, would have provided a haven when so shamefully few countries were willing to accept Jewish refugees.
We shall never forget those who perished.
We shall never forget those who saved even a single life. As it is written in the Talmud: “He who saves one life has saved the world.”
We shall never forget the importance of speaking out against intolerance, whenever and wherever it occurs.
We shall never forget the inextricable link among democracy, the rule of law, and protection of human rights.
We shall never forget the age-old prophetic vision of a world of justice, harmony, and peace.
And we shall never forget that each of us, in ways large and small, can help bring us closer to the realization of that prophetic vision.