International Holocaust Remembrance Day: raising awareness remains necessary

Tomorrow, it is exactly 74 years ago that the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp was liberated. That is why the 27th of January is the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders’ thoughts are with all victims and survivors of the genocides that have taken place in history. Such tragedies may never happen again. Continuing attention to the Holocaust and education about the Shoah have an important preventive role, according to the Minister.

Our country has a solid legal framework to fight against racism, through our anti-racism and anti-discrimination law. Since 1995, there is also legislation in force in Belgium that prohibits the denial, minimization, justification or approval of the genocide committed by the German National Socialist regime during the Second World War.

But anti-Semitism unfortunately still exists in Europe, also in our country. The European Council Declaration on Combating Anti-Semitism of 6 December 2018 and the Belgian Senate Resolution on Combating Anti-Semitism (adopted on 14 December) show that efforts and awareness-raising remain necessary. That is why the Belgian government is currently working on a reactivation of the vigilance cell against anti-Semitism.

Respect for others and cultural diversity are fundamental values for our country. Not only governments but also other agencies and organisations are working to keep hate, racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism out of our society. Education also plays a key role. By keeping the memory of the atrocities alive, together we ensure that they will hopefully never happen again.

Our country is a member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) and works together with its partners, in a European context and within international organisations such as the United Nations.