BONN (Jan. 28)
Dozens of commemoration ceremonies took place across Germany to mark the second national observance of Holocaust Day. Last year, President Roman Herzog called for the annual observance memorializing Holocaust victims to fall on Jan. 27, the date of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp 52 years ago.
Monday’s commemorations included a main ceremony, attended by Herzog, held here before a joint session of both houses of Parliament.
Marring the commemorations, which also included ceremonies in Berlin and at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, was a statement issued by the president of the state Parliament of Berlin, Herwig Haase, who said those to be commemorated should include “victims who were formerly perpetrators, or who became perpetrators afterward.”
Commenting on the statement, Ignatz Bubis, chairman of the Jewish community in Germany, said, “I do not wish to commemorate today the murderer of my father — even though he may have become the victim of an air raid.”
Haase said through a spokesman that he would explain his statement to a parliamentary committee, adding that he was misunderstood.
But the Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel called on Haase to consider resigning.
“What is a Parliament’s president worth who cannot even formulate a statement for the Commemoration Day for the victims of the Nazis?” the newspaper said.
Among the speakers at Monday’s various ceremonies was Jan Karski, a Polish resistance fighter who provided the Allies in 1942 with an eyewitness account of the Nazi crimes then being carried out.
“I was in the Warsaw Ghetto,” Karski, now 82, told a large audience at Berlin’s Jewish Cultural Center. “I learned about the killings elsewhere and reported back to the governments in London and in Washington.
“Yet no one wanted to hear. At that time, the big powers had no interest in the Jewish problem. They probably had other, more urgent problems to deal with.”