• S. Loesser

Deutscher Bundestag to commemorate victims of the Holocaust

Updated: Jan 28, 2021

On 27 January 2021, the Deutsche Bundestag will commemorate the victims of the Holocaust. Twenty-five years ago, Bundespräsident (Federal President) Roman Herzog declared 27 January, the date of the liberation of Auschwitz, a national day of remembrance. Since then, a ceremony of remembrance has been held each year at the Bundestag, with those who witnessed the Holocaust first-hand invited to give speeches.

On 27 January 1945, soldiers of the Soviet Red Army liberated the German concentration camp Auschwitz, to the west of Kraków in southern Poland. Since 1940, people had been tortured, tormented and murdered there: Jews, above all, as well as Poles, Sinti and Roma, Soviet prisoners of war and prisoners of other nationalities.

At the heart of this year's event in the Plenarsaal [in the Reichstagsgebäude (Reichstag building)] is the commemoration. This year, the commemoration is also much influenced by the anniversary year "321 - 2021: 1700 Jahre jüdisches Leben in Deuschland” (1700 years of Jewish life in Germany). The ceremony will emphasise the Zivilisationsbruch (rupture of civilisation) [a term coined by German historian and political author Dan Diner] of the Shoah by remembering Jewish culture that shaped the country for many centuries before 1933 and by looking at Jewish life since 1945, in the shadow of Auschwitz.

After welcoming words by Bundestagspräsident (presiding officer of the German parliament) Wolfgang Schäuble, Charlotte Knobloch and Marina Weisband will speak. Charlotte Knobloch is a Holocaust survivor, President of the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde München und Oberbayern (Jewish Community of Munich and Upper Bavaria), and former chairperson of the Zentralrates der Juden in Deutschland (Central Council of Jews in Germany). Marina Weisband came to Germany from the Ukraine as a child in the course of the regulation for quota refugees. She speaks as a representative of the third generation after the Shoah.

A short film about the Sulzbacher Torarolle (Torah scroll from Sulzbach) from 1793, which has been restored in Israel, will be played. The Torah scroll will be completed at the end of the commemoration in a ceremony with the involvement of the representatives of the constitutional bodies and the commemorative speakers in the Bundestag prayer room – as a symbol of the state's commitment to protect Jewish life in Germany and to make it possible on a permanent basis.

The commemoration ceremony starts at 11:00 on 27 January and will be broadcast live online at www.bundestag.de

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