As the world marked the close of Holocaust Remembrance Day on Monday (April 24), Israelis gathered for a final ceremony at the Ghetto Fighters’ Museum at Kibbutz Mordei HaGeta’ot — the Kibbutz of those who survived the ghettos.
President Reuven Rivlin spoke at the final ceremony, as did Jewish National Fund (JNF) director Daniel Atar and outgoing German President Joachim Gauc.
Rivlin noted that for the first time “in a long time,” the subject of the Holocaust has become the primary domain of professional teachers rather than that of those who actually experienced its horrors first-hand, due to the mortality of those who were there. “The latest political statements are very disturbing,” Rivlin said. “And everywhere the message is the same: ‘We are not responsible for the Holocaust, we are not responsible for the destruction of the Jewish people that occurred on our border.'”
Specifically, Rivlin explained his opposition to French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, who has denied French involvement in deportation of Jews to the death camps in World War II.
“Two weeks ago, a French presidential candidate [Le Pen] denied France’s responsibility for the deportation of its Jewish citizens to Nazi concentration and extermination camps, and denied the French involvement in the deportation of the Jews,” Rivlin told the gathering.
“In Poland, the discourse over the local population’s involvement in the persecution and extermination of Jews has become a hot topic. Elected officials at Ukraine were furious after I spoke before their parliament and said that “many of those who helped the Nazis were members of the Ukrainian people, including those who had ransacked and massacred the Jews and in many cases turned them over to the Germans.”
And in Britain, a member of the Labour Party who was expelled from it said that ‘Zionist Jews collaborated with Hitler.’
“It is true that there is no equal responsibility,” continued Rivlin. “We do not see any nation other than the German nation as the mastermind behind the diabolical design and execution of the final solution.
“But we demand self-examination from of all those who helped carry out the extermination program,” he said. Holocaust denial by way of disavowing responsibility for Nazi crimes is just as dangerous, he added.