UN rights chief, EU leaders speak out on Holocaust Memorial Day

(Photo: Reuters / Nir Elias)Visitors stand in front of a flag with the Nazi swastika at Yad Vashem's Holocaust History Museum in Jerusalem April 18, 2012.

On Holocaust Memorial Day the world is reminded every human being is responsible for making Germany's Nazi regime's monumental crimes killing millions of Jews 70 years ago do not happen again, the top U.N. rights official Navi Pillay has said.

"Today is the day to remember that 70 years ago millions of Jewish men, women and children, as well as Roma, Slavs, disabled people, homosexuals, Jehovah's witnesses, communists and other political dissidents were being brutally assassinated, simply because of who they were," said Pillay in a statement.

On Jan. 27 each year, the day in 1945 the Soviet Army liberated the Nazi concentration and death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland, the United Nations sets aside a day in remembrance of Holocaust victims.

"This responsibility goes beyond words and good intentions….It requires us to not permit manifestations of hatred or discrimination to go unnoticed or unchallenged.

"Such constant vigilance is the only way to ensure there is no risk of repetition, and the best way to honor the memory of Holocaust victims," said U.N. Human Rights commissioner Pillay, a former South African High Court judge.

On some Jewish websites, Christians were reminded of the part they played in either carrying out the Holocaust or being complicit in it, but occasionally helping rescue Jews.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a podcast on her official Web site, "Naturally, we have an everlasting responsibility for the crimes of national-socialism, for the victims of World War II, and above all, for the Holocaust.

"We must clearly say, to generation after generation, and say it again: with courage, each individual can help ensure that racism and anti-Semitism have no chance," Merkel added

Around the world Holocaust survivors and world leaders speak out in remembrance of victims, but also to ensure the world never forgets what happened in Europe in the 1930s and in the 1940s.

The Shoah and its countless victims will be remembered on Jan. 27 as part of Holocaust Remembrance Day, European Parliament president Martin Schulz, a German lawmaker said in Brussels.

"Evil exists every day and therefore we have to be visible and prudent every day and every moment," said Schulz.

He also said the EU exists due to what happened in Europe in the first half of the 20th century.

When Pope Benedict XVI visited the Holocaust Memorial of Yad Vashem in Jerusalem on May 11, 2009 he said:

"I have come to stand in silence before this monument, erected to honor the memory of the millions of Jews killed in the horrific tragedy of the Shoah.

"They lost their lives, but they will never lose their names: these are indelibly etched in the hearts of their loved ones, their surviving fellow prisoners, and all those determined never to allow such an atrocity to disgrace mankind again. Most of all, their names are forever fixed in the memory of Almighty God."

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