Rwanda, on Monday, joined the state of Israel to mark the 75th International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Orchestrated by the Nazi regime of Germany, the Holocaust resulted in the killing of over six million Jews, which constituted around two-thirds of the Jewish population in Europe.
The Holocaust was committed during the Second World War (1939 -1945).
Globally, the day is marked around January 27, a date on which the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration and Extermination Camp was liberated by Soviet troops in 1945.
Amb. Ron Adam, the Israeli envoy to Rwanda, delivers his remarks during the 75th International Holocaust Remembrance Day event at Kigali Genocide Memorial. Photo: Dan Nsengiyumva.
About 1.1 million people, mostly Jews, were murdered at this camp.
The annual marking of the Holocaust Remembrance Day gives opportunity to the world to pay tribute to the memory of the victims and reaffirm commitment to counter anti-Semitism, racism, and other forms of intolerance that may lead to group-targeted violence.
Different remembrance events were organised across the globe as it came to 75 years since the worst genocide in the history of the world was halted.
In Rwanda, the day was marked at the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Gisozi.
Officials from the Government of Rwanda, Israel embassy, survivors of the Holocaust and members of the diplomatic corps accredited to Rwanda attended the event.
“We gather today for the International Holocaust Remembrance Day to fulfill a solemn obligation of remembrance, to never allow the memory of those who died to be forgotten by anyone anywhere in the world,” said Ron Adam the Ambassador of the Israel to Rwanda.
Giving an example of the Genocide against the Tutsi that happened decades after the Jewish Holocaust, Adam told his audience that if there had been any lessons from the past, the Genocide in Rwanda would have been avoided.
“I am telling you, had the story of the holocaust been mentioned and taught before 1994, the Genocide against the Tutsi might have been prevented. But this story was not told and was not part of the education curriculum in the past. We need to do it now; we need to know it in order to prevent any more atrocities,” he said.
Rosemary Mbabazi, the Minister of Youth and Culture said that Rwanda understood the pain and anguish of the Jews, since Rwanda also lost over a million people during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
“Today we pose to remember your loved ones and our loved ones that you lost in the holocaust. We gather to fulfill an important obligation of remembrance as His Excellency Paul Kagame said in 2017, ‘To remember is a must,’ here in Rwanda we value the importance of a day like this,” she said.
David Frankel, a holocaust survivor told a touching story of his survival.
Frankel was living in Hungary in 1944 when the Nazis conquered the country and took thousands of Jews to concentration camps from where many died under very undesirable conditions.
He looked back at the losses he incurred including the death of his father, but thanked God for his own survival and declared the desire for peace among people, quoting God’s Promise through the Jewish prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 2:4) “They (people of the world) will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.”
In attendance was German Ambassador to Rwanda Thomas Kurz who also reflected on the importance of remembrance,
“The remembrance of the holocaust has become a central element of our identity,” he said.
“Commemoration is necessary and essential. This is generally true for all human societies. The never again call is as audible, as significant and as imperative as ever,” he said.