On January 27, 2021 we commemorated the 76th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and extermination camp. This day has been marked in the Czech Republic since 2004 as the Day of Holocaust Remembrance and Prevention of Crimes against Humanity. In 2005, the United Nations designated January 27 as the International Day to Honor Holocaust Victims.
Also this year, January 27 saw major commemorative events, namely in Prague, Terezín and Jerusalem. Due to the adverse epidemiological situation not only in the Czech Republic all the events were held online.
In the morning of January 27, Dr. Jan Roubínek, Director of the Terezín Memorial, joined by René Tomášek, Mayor of the Terezín Municipality, laid wreaths in the Jewish Cemetery in Terezín.
A Czech-Israeli online gathering, called the International Holocaust Memorial Day: Remembering, Perpetuating and Pursuing Justice,took place in the afternoon, being streamed from Jerusalem and Terezín. Organized by the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the Ministry for Social Equality, and the Czech Foreign Ministry, the meeting was staged as a show of public support for the Holocaust survivors during the pandemic.
During the program, speeches were delivered by President Reuven Rivlin of Israel, Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and Itzik Shmuli, Minister for Social Equality. Speaking on behalf of the Czech Republic were President Miloš Zeman, Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček and – addressing the gathering from the premises of a dormitory in the former Magdeburg Barracks in the Terezín Memorial – was Robert Řehák, a special envoy for the Holocaust. A distinguished guest was Dita Krausová, a Holocaust survivor, whose story was narrated in the book named The Libratian of Auschwitz by Antonio G. Iturbe.
Other keynote speakers in the program were Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Antony J. Blinken, US Secretary of State, Nicola Beer, Vice President of the European Parliament, Omer Yankelevich, Israeli Minister of Diaspora Affairs, Gideon Taylor, President of the Claims Conference, and Colette Avital, Chairperson of the Center of Organization of Holocaust Survivors in Israel.
The commemorative program lasting more than an hour was concluded in the former Magdeburg Barracks in the Terezín Memorial when Robert Řehák, Daniel Meron, Ambassador of the State of Israel in the Czech Republic, Jan Roubínk and Petr Papoušek, Chairman of the Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic, lit up 6 candles, in a symbolic tribute to the 6 million Holocaust victims.
A recording of the gathering in English is available on the Facebook of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic.
Based on a Terezín Memorial press release