by NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană at International Holocaust Remembrance Day
Thank you Ambassador Talò and welcome everyone to NATO to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
On 27 January 1945, seventy-five years ago today, the Soviet army liberated the 7,000 souls left alive in Auschwitz. In the five years before that, at least 1.1 million people had been murdered behind its barbed wire fences.
The Nazis killed more than 6 million Jews, but also Roma, homosexuals, handicapped people and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Killed not for what they had done, but for who they were.
The Holocaust was an assault on all of humanity. It was about the destruction of the different. And what makes us different, what makes us unique, is what makes us human.
After the War, the free nations of the world sought a new path. A path built on the upholding of universal values enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations. Values such as the right to life, to freedom of religion, to freedom itself.
NATO was created to uphold those values and to protect the peoples of Europe and North America from the tyranny that led to the Holocaust. 50 years after Auschwitz, NATO intervened in Kosovo to prevent a new genocide on European soil.
We must always remember. We must always remain vigilant. And we must always be prepared to act. For seventy-five years after the Holocaust, antisemitism remains. This we cannot accept.
Jonathan Sacks, the former British Chief Rabbi said, “No free society was ever built on hate.” And we cannot allow the evil of antisemitism and hatred to twist and destroy our free societies.
So on this day of remembrance, let us also look ahead. Let us take the actions necessary to ensure we never fall into the easy trap of hatred of the ‘other’. But always make the effort to reach out in friendship, to understand and embrace all those who make up our diverse communities.
One thing that helps to build our common understanding and sense of community is art. And today we are honoured to have some moving and poignant art to share. So may I introduce the curator of this fine exhibition, Ermanno Tedeschi, who will say more about the paintings you see before you…