By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (BosNewsLife)– Europe remembered Sunday, January 27, the killings of six million Jews and others the Nazi’s didn’t like, amid concerns about rising anti-Semitism in Hungary and other countries.
Holocaust survivors, politicians, religious leaders and others marked the annual International Holocaust Remembrance Day with solemn prayers.
Pope Benedict XVI warned that “the memory of this immense tragedy, which above all struck so harshly the Jewish people, must represent for everyone a constant warning so that the horrors of the past are not repeated.”
Events Sunday took place at sites including Auschwitz-Birkenau, the former death camp where Adolf Hitler’s Germany killed at least 1.1 million people, mostly Jews, in southern Poland.
Sunday was the 68th anniversary of the liberation of the camp by Soviet troops in 1945.
Holocaust survivor Bat Sheva Dagan still searches for answers. “Why did I survive that hell? Was it God above? luck? Or my destiny? who knows.. I simply can’t tell,” she said during an emotionally charged cceremony at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium.
In Warsaw, prayers were also held Sunday at a monument to the fighters of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943.
Yet, the annual memorial day was overshadowed by concerns about rising anti-Semitism, especially in countries such as Hungary.
Recently, a legislator of Hungary’s far right Jobbik party suggested to draw lists of Hungarian Jews who he said are “a threat” to the nation’s security.
The President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, expressed outrage.
“There is anti-Semitism in Europe. There is a free-elected member of a member state of the European Parliament asking for registering Jews,” he said at the ceremony.
“This is a shame in Europe,” Schulz added, prompting loud applause.
The mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemanno, agrees. He said lights of the ancient Colosseum in Italy’s capital would be dimmed Sunday, January 27, to protest Jobbik party statements and wider antisemitism in Hungary, including threats against Jews and the desecration of Jewish graves and Holocaust monuments.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has come under pressure to distance himself from extremism in a nation that is still confronting its past as a former ally of Nazi-Germany when 600,000 Hungarian Jews were killed.
Orbán said Sunday, January 27, that his government “protects all citizens and condemns all forms of anti-Semitism.”
Hungary isn’t alone.
European Jewish leaders say 2012 also saw a sharp rise in expressed hatred towards Jews elsewhere on the continent, as extremists search for scapegoats to blame for the continent’s economic crisis.
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