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Belgian leaders in Auschwitz for 70th anniversary of liberation
Belgian politicians and royalty travelled to Auschwitz, in the south of Poland, yesterday to attend the ceremony held on the site of the Nazi concentration camp where more than one million people died during World War Two. In 2005, 27 January was designated by the United Nations as International Holocaust Remembrance Day
Some 300 Auschwitz survivors took part in the ceremony, along with leaders from many European countries. Belgium’s King Philippe and Queen Mathilde attended the ceremony as did prime minister Charles Michel and foreign affairs minister Didier Reynders.
Speakers at the event warned that anti-Semitism is on the rise again in Europe. “Once again Jewish boys are afraid to wear yarmulkes on the streets of Paris, Budapest, London and even Berlin,” said Ronald S Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress.
The anniversary was marked in Belgium at the Kazerne Dossin Memorial, Museum and Documentation Centre on Holocaust and Human Rights in Mechelen.
Kazerne Dossin, or the Dossin Barracks, is the site where Jews and other minority groups were held until their deportation to concentration camps in Germany and occupied Poland during the war. It is now a government-funded memorial and museum (pictured) that works to educate the public, and particularly young people, about the dangers of racism and xenophobia.
“We have to continue to inform young people about the horrors that were committed then,” museum director Herman Van Goethem said at yesterday’s ceremony.
Flemish education minister Hilde Crevits repeated the message that education was essential to combat racism. “It is essential to teach students to be aware of the dangers of stereotyping,” she said. “This can make them more responsible citizens.”