Article by the Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs, Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, in the Sunday Kathimerini (26 January 2020)
The 27th of January is Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorating the extermination of some six million Jews by the Nazis. This year’s Holocaust Remembrance Day is especially important, as it coincides with the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, a place of suffering and sacrifice for 1.1 million people, including some 55,000 Greek Jews.
On my recent visit to Auschwitz, I saw the ‘signs’ of Nazi brutality, the monstrous historical footprint of atrocity. I saw how far humanity can go, and I was gripped by fear. This is why we must keep the memory of the Holocaust alive, ensuring that this black page of history is never forgotten.
Holocaust Remembrance Day is not just a historical ritual; it is a profoundly political and educational process.
It is political in the sense of the ongoing battle we must fight against racism, intolerance, discrimination, intimidation, xenophobia. We must not allow the spectre of Nazism to return to the society and politics of our land. We cannot tolerate efforts to exonerate the neo-Nazi cancer of Golden Dawn.
It is educational in the sense that we must keep apathy and inertia from taking root in the world around us. There is no room for complacency. We must be vigilant.
Our country paid a heavy price in blood. It is estimated that 83-86% of Greek Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust – perhaps the highest percentage in the countries of Western Europe. This is why we must mount the greatest resistance to any attempt to deny the Holocaust. In this context, Kyriakos Mitsotakis made our country the first to adopt the relevant working definition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), of which our country is a member.
We are sending the message that anti-Semitism is not tolerated in Greece, politically or in practice. At the same time, we are now moving beyond Greek-Israeli friendship, building a strategic partnership with the state that was the national refuge for world Jewry.
In Greece we want to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive, out of respect for the victims and as a lesson for the future. Never again!