World Holocaust Forum

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The World Holocaust Forum (also World Forum “Let My People Live!”) is a series of high-profile events targeted at preserving memories of Holocaust atrocities and the other tragic events of World War II. In order to organise and support the World Forum, a special foundation was established in 2005 under the chairmanship of Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress and Chair of the Forum’s Organising Committee.

Four World Forums have already been held, the First World Forum “Let My People Live!” was held in 2005 in Kraków (Poland) to mark 60 years since the liberation of the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. The First Forum was attended by over 20 official delegations led by their heads of state, among them President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, President of Israel Moshe Katsav, President of Poland Aleksander Kwaśniewski, and Vice President of the United States of America Richard Cheney. The first World Forum received widespread media coverage.[1][2]

The Second World Forum “Let My People Live!” was held in 2006 in Kiev under the auspices of President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko to commemorate 65 years since the Babi Yar tragedy. The Forum was attended by over 1,000 people from 60 countries, including representatives of international political and public organisations, among them the UN, the European Union, the Council of Europe, the World Jewish Congress, the European Jewish Congress, the American Jewish Congress, the European Jewish Fund, etc.[3]

The World Holocaust Forum Declaration was adopted at the end of the Second Forum and calls for preserving memories about the tragic events of World War II and uniting efforts in the fight against xenophobia, anti-Semitism and international terrorism.[4]

Third World Forum "Let My People Live!"[edit]

The third World Forum “Let My People Live!” took place on January 27, 2010 in Krakow, Poland and was dedicated to the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. The third World Holocaust Forum was aimed at preserving memories of the events of World War II, creating connections between the past and the future and preventing any recurrence of the tragedies of the past. President of the European Jewish Congress Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor was the leader and organiser of the project.[5]

The Forum was the first in a long list of commemorative events planned for 2010 to observe the 65th anniversary of victory in World War II, the Forum was a starting point of political significance meant to attract the attention of the global community and remind the public of the unparalleled united struggle by members of the Allied coalition against fascism and the decisive role of the Soviet Union in Europe’s liberation.

The Forum was attended by a group of 100 European Parliament deputies headed by Jerzy Buzek, representatives of other European institutions and official delegations from around the world. Ivan Martynushkin and Yakov Vinnichenko, both World War II veterans and liberators of Auschwitz-Birkenau, were among the Forum’s honorary guests.[6]

The third “Let My People Live!” World Forum was addressed by the following participants:

Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress and the Forum’s leader and organiser

Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament

Aleksander Kwaśniewski, former president of the Republic of Poland, Chairman of the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation

EJC President, leader and organizer of the Forum Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor

Yisrael Meir Lau, Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv and Buchenwald survivor

Avner Shalev, Chairman of the Directorate of Yad Vashem

Ronald Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress[7]

U.S. President Barack Obama[8] and President of France Nicolas Sarkozy[9] sent their messages to the Forum. Both leaders’ addresses called for the world community to always remember the tragedies of the past and suggested that memory should factor into policy.

The main result of the Forum was an announcement of the initiative to establish a new special educational and research institution, a Pan-European University of Global Security and Tolerance. The key objective of the new organisation will be to assist the international community in its struggle for global security in the face of challenges posed by extremism, the University will be focused on arranging cross-cultural educational and instructional programmes designed to harmonise the development of international cooperation and education.[10]

Organisers[edit]

European Jewish Congress

• World Holocaust Forum Foundation

Yad Vashem – the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority

Patronage[edit]

The third “Let My People Live!” Forum was held under the honorary patronage of:

• President of the Republic of Poland Lech Kaczyński

• President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek

• First Permanent President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy

Forum Media Coverage[edit]

Moshe Kantor. Learning for the future, Jerusalem Post, 26.01.2010

Nazi Camp Survivors Dwindle to a Few, Wall Street Journal, 27.01.2010

Sarkozy: Auschwitz, symbol of evil, not forgotten, AFP, 27.01.2010

Iran has same plan as Hitler, says Auschwitz survivor, The Times, 28.01.2010

Survivors mark liberation of Auschwitz, Sydney Morning Herald, 28.01.2010

Holocaust survivors focus on future lessons, Euronews, 28.01.2010

Anti-Semitism in Poland shows need for Holocaust education, Haaretz, 28.01.2010

EU parliament president commemorates Holocaust, The Parliament.com, 28.01.2010

The last survivors return to Auschwitz, The Jewish Chronicle, 28.01.2010

Fourth International “Let My People Live!” Forum[edit]

On 26–27 January 2015, the Fourth International “Let My People Live!” Forum was held in Prague and Terezín (Czech Republic) to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.[11] Several hundred distinguished guests, including heads of state, political leaders, members of parliament, diplomats, scholars and public figures from many countries, one of few surviving Auschwitz-Birkenau liberators Leonty Brandt, former prisoners of the concentration camps and Holocaust survivors attended the event.

The two-day event consisted of two major parts, the Forum of World Civil Society held at Prague Castle and the commemorative ceremony in Terezín, focused on remembering the past and reflecting on the present at a time when rising anti-Semitism and intolerance pose a threat not only to the survival of Jewish communities in Europe, but also to the security of Europe as a whole.

The Forum, organised by the European Jewish Congress and the World Holocaust Forum Foundation with the European Parliament and its President Martin Schulz, was attended by over 900 guests, including 30 official delegations and representatives of parliaments, European heads of state and international celebrities, experts and scholars, who gathered together at Prague Castle to participate in three discussion panels focused on anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism and religious radicalism.

Well-known U.S. human rights activist Abraham Foxman, historian and Yale University professor Timothy David Snyder, French writer and philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy, head of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey Cemil Çiçek, President of the Chamber of Deputies of Romania Valeriu Zgonea and other preeminent individuals attended the Forum’s first day. Russia was represented by Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Ilyas Umakhanov and President of the World Public Forum Dialogue of Civilizations Vladimir Yakunin.

President of European Jewish Congress Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, speaker of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Parliament Jan Hamáček and President of the Czech Senate Milan Štěch addressed the audience.

On 27 January 2015, Czech President Miloš Zeman hosted the final session of the Forum and official ceremony to commemorate the Holocaust’s victims, the National Philharmonic of Russia, 98 musicians under the direction of Vladimir Spivakov, performed the Yellow Stars concerto for orchestra by Isaac Schwartz accompanied by video about the Holocaust history. After the on-line minute of silence linking three other concentration camps, guests were invited to participate in the commemorative ceremony in Theresienstadt,[12] a concentration camp that served as a transit station on the way to other death camps. Theresienstadt inmates included many musicians, composers, cartoonists and poets, who maintained their art by publishing Vedem magazine. World-famous cantor Joseph Malovany and Oscar winner Sir Ben Kingsley performed during the ceremony.

At the conclusion of the Fourth International Holocaust Forum, participants adopted a Declaration on Combating Anti-Semitism and Hate Crimes.[13]

Holocaust Remembrance Days in Brussels[edit]

On January 25, 2011 at the European Parliament in Brussels on the eve of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day there took place a commemoration meeting devoted to the memory of the Holocaust. It was timed to the 66th anniversary of the liberation of concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau by the Soviet Army, among principal organizers of the event were the European Jewish Congress, the European Jewish Community Center, the European Coalition for Israel, as well as the European Parliament and the Information and Diaspora Ministry of Israel. The President of the European Jewish Congress Moshe Kantor, the President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek, the Information and Diaspora Minister of Israel Yuli Edelstein, the Chief Rabby of Tel Aviv Yisrael Meir Lau addressed the audience of those who came to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust. Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy became the guest of honour at this event.

Next Holocaust Remembrance Day has been held on January 24, 2012 at the European Parliament building in Brussels, under the patronage[14] of the European Parliament President, this event was timed to 70 years since the infamous Wannsee Conference and 50 years since the end of the trial of Adolf Eichmann. Among the guests of this event were the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, Israel’s Minister for Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Yuli Edelstein, as well as many other European officials and ambassadors.[15]

Commemorative events for International Holocaust Remembrance Day were also held at the European Parliament in 2013 and 2014; in 2013,[16] an important feature of the event was the personal patronage of President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, who declared International Holocaust Remembrance Day an official annual event for the European Parliament starting in 2013.

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