US President Barack Obama on Monday called on people around the world to remember the victims of those murdered by Nazi Germany on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
In a statement published by the White House, Obama said that Monday marked the day when the world “comes together to commemorate a barbaric crime unique in human history” and the lives of the six million Jews and millions of others murdered in death camps.
“We mourn lives cut short and communities torn apart,” the president said.
The president expressed that January 27 also offered a message of hope, for it marks the day of Auschwitz’s liberation.
“The noble acts of courage performed by liberators, rescuers, and the Righteous Among Nations remind us that we are never powerless. In our lives, we always have choices,” Obama said. “In our time, this means choosing to confront bigotry and hatred in all of its forms, especially anti-Semitism. It means condemning any attempts to deny the occurrence of the Holocaust. It means doing our part to ensure that survivors receive some measure of justice and the support they need to live out their lives in dignity.”
Last Friday, the White House named Aviva Sufian as special envoy for US Holocaust survivor services.
“Her work as Special Envoy will focus on those survivors currently living in poverty, as well as those who may not be receiving services for which they are currently eligible,” read an official statement.
In Canada, Minister for Multiculturalism Jason Kenney issued an official statement Monday, saying, “The Holocaust was historically exceptional not only in its brutality and scale, but also in the methodical way the Nazis carried out their program of tyranny and mass murder.”
“Last week, accompanying Prime Minister [Stephen] Harper in Jerusalem, I had the opportunity to return to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum and memorial. In that heartbreaking place, I once again contemplated the uniquely cruel and horrific atrocities of the Shoah,” he said.
Kenney encouraged Canadians to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day and reflect “on the dangers of such extreme hatred, and [take] the time to learn about this dark chapter in world history.
“In learning about the tragedy of the Holocaust, we commit ourselves to fighting all forms of hatred, and to living the words ‘never again,'” he said.
Earlier on Monday a contingent of several hundred Israeli lawmakers, leaders and Holocaust survivors participated in a memorial ceremony at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Poland.