Today, 27th January, will be 70 years to the day since the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp was liberated by Allied forces. It is estimated that over one million people lost their lives at that one camp before it was liberated in the final year of the Second World War. 27th January is now marked by International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This will be a very poignant and significant anniversary for many across the UK and Europe.
Jude Kirton-Darling, Labour MEP for the North East of England, said:
“My great-grandmother and many other relatives were murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau. This anniversary is more poignant than ever because of the rise of the extreme right across Europe and the rise of anti-Semitism. We need to reassert the need for understanding, compassion and cooperation between people of different races and faiths.
“We need to invest in conflict resolution between communities and states. Thankfully the EU has a number of projects which actively work towards peaceful solutions to conflicts around the world including in Armenia, a country which has suffered genocide. There the EU is working to solve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict through mediation and reconciliation.
“70 years on from the atrocities that were committed in that camp and countless others across Europe, we are a completely unrecognisable continent. Since that pivotal event, European nations have built peace and understanding and now co-operate with each other in ways that many could not have imagined just a few decades ago.
“The European Union was the key player in building that trust, respect and unity between our war-torn countries which is why it won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012. Although today it is difficult to appreciate the times people lived through during the Second World War, we must be determined to prevent these kinds of atrocities wherever they happen and to promote human rights both in and outside of the EU.
“This Tuesday our thoughts will be with the millions of families who lost loved ones at Auschwitz-Birkenau. I hope that this anniversary will be a reminder of how far we have come in 70 years, and the challenges that still lie ahead.”