Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. I would like to express my compliments to the Swedish government for organising this event. It is an honour to speak to you about this important subject.
Thanks to the unwavering efforts of the chairman of the Dutch Auschwitz Committee, Mr. Jacques Grishaver, the Holocaust wall of names was unveiled last month. In the very heart of Amsterdam, a brick labyrinth slowly took form, bearing the names and ages of all hundred-and-two-thousand-one-hundred-and-sixty-three Dutch Jews, Roma and Sinti, that were murdered by the Nazis during World War Two. Each brick is inscribed with the name of a single victim. For most survivors this is the first time they ever see the names of their murdered family members, recognised in stone.
According to Mr. Grishaver commemoration is more than honouring the dead. It also leads us to account for the actions of the past, and sustains us in the fight against the poison of antisemitism.
An EU study concluded a seven- to thirteen-fold increase in anti-semitic comments online in the two most spoken languages in the EU over the course of one single year. Covid related conspiracy theories and disinformation seem to feed into antisemitic discourse with a vengeance. Despicable theories about Jewish world domination and misinformation about the origins of Covid go hand in hand. As is often the case, the poison of antisemitism arises as society navigates a major crisis. It is our duty to address this head-on.
In my country several protesters, disagreeing with Covid policy, are in turn comparing themselves and their situation with the fate of the Jews, as they were prosecuted by the Nazi’s. Some of them even wear the yellow star of David. These protesters are trampling on the feelings of survivors, they are trivializing the Holocaust by comparing their situation to that of the countless victims of Nazi cruelty. Many in our parliament have forcefully denounced these comparisons, as have I. And I urge you to join me in calling for an end this deplorable practice. We must preserve the memory of the Holocaust.
Some of the bricks that make up the new Memorial of Names are now marked by small stones. According to this Jewish custom, the descendants of the deceased show that their thoughts are still with their lost loved ones.
Let all of us try in our lives to symbolically leave behind our own stone of remembrance every day. By honouring the dead, by remembering the horrors, and by pledging our relentless commitment to the fight against today’s antisemitism.
Thank you for your attention.