International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust
Bern, 27.01.2023 - Message from Mr Alain Berset, President of the Swiss Confederation, on the occasion of the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust.
This year, commemorating the Holocaust takes on a special significance and dimension. As we remember the six million Jews murdered during the Second World War, as well as the Sinti, Roma and all the other victims of Nazism and its inhumane policies, current circumstances invite us to mark this commemoration in the light of historical truth and resistance.
More than three quarters of a century after the liberation of the concentration camps, the historical truth of the crimes of Nazi Germany should not be disputed. However, history is regularly rewritten for nefarious purposes. For example, in order to justify its military aggression against Ukraine, Russia is drawing a false parallel by claiming that the democratically elected government in Kiev is composed of Nazis. This alleged ‘denazification’ is not only a crude pretext for demonising and invading a neighbouring country. It is a distortion of history, and fundamentally disrespects the victims of Nazi Germany.
The falsification of history makes remembering more necessary than ever. When points of reference are lost, when responsibilities become blurred, when conspiracy theories replace established facts, there is real danger of the truth being lost. That is why we must not cease to educate, reflect and debate.
In defending the truth and commemorating the victims of the Holocaust today, we also pay tribute to the spirit of resistance and bravery. The uprising in the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw began 80 years ago. In January 1943, when almost 300,000 people had already been deported to the death camps, a small group of Jewish fighters, armed with pistols, attacked Nazi guards. All the attackers died, but this act of bravery encouraged the ghetto inhabitants to resist by defying orders, hiding and building underground bunkers.
Having stopped the deportations for a while, the Nazis decided to resume them in April, triggering a general uprising. Despite their superior weaponry, the Nazis suffered many losses and only managed to subdue the uprising after 27 days of fierce fighting. The ghetto was finally razed to the ground and over 40,000 survivors were deported and killed.
This collective decision by the ghetto’s inhabitants to stand up to Nazi brutality, despite the odds being stacked so heavily against them, is an act of courage that still resonates today. The example of the Warsaw resistance fighters underlines the value of human dignity and reminds us of our own responsibility to oppose anti-Semitism, racism and barbarism firmly and unequivocally by our democratic means.
The situation we face today is very different, but in the current period of instability there is nonetheless the temptation to exclude others or focus our attention inwards. We must therefore redouble our efforts in the fight against discrimination, hatred and violence, and promote mutual respect, diversity and dialogue. This requires determination and persistence.
The Federal Council is clearly committed to doing just that, both at home and in international bodies, where Switzerland defends respect for human rights, the protection of civilians and lasting peace. In order to promote these values, which are enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, on 1 January this year Switzerland became a member of the UN Security Council for the first time in its history. We are all called upon to remember the historical lesson of the Holocaust. All of us, everywhere, must do all we can to ensure that anti-Semitism and racism are not allowed to spread freely.
Address for enquiries
Gianna Blum, Head of Communications, FDHA
+41 (0)58 465 09 51, firstname.lastname@example.org
Federal Department of Home Affairs