The Korea Herald


German, Israeli embassies in Seoul commemorate Holocaust victims

By Sanjay Kumar

Published : Feb. 10, 2024 - 16:01

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Candles lit remembering Holocaust victims during commemorative event for Holocaust victims at Goethe Institute in Yongsan-gu, Seoul. (Sanjay Kumar/The Korea Herald) Candles lit remembering Holocaust victims during commemorative event for Holocaust victims at Goethe Institute in Yongsan-gu, Seoul. (Sanjay Kumar/The Korea Herald)

Germany and Israel remembered Holocaust victims in a solemn commemorative event hosted by the two embassies in Seoul on Jan. 29.

The gathering, held annually on Jan. 27, marks the International Day of Commemoration, observing the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp on that day in 1945.

Designated by the United Nations General Assembly, this day serves as a reminder of the Shoah and imparts crucial lessons from the Holocaust.

The term "Shoah," from Hebrew, means "catastrophe" and refers to the systematic killing of almost six million Jews in Europe under Germany's Nazi regime during World War II.

Delivering remarks at the event, Israeli Ambassador to Korea Akiva Tor underlined that even though East Asia is not a former part of the European theater during World War II and distant from the history of antisemitism in the West, it is vital to acknowledge the enduring impact of the Holocaust.

Tor reflected on the illogical persecution of Jews in Germany, a community fully integrated into German society and contributors to its high culture.

“The murder of the Jews was a motiveless crime, and yet the annihilation of six million men, women and children was prolonged, industrial, scientific, bureaucratically perfect, total and complete,” said Tor.

“Jewish life in Europe has never recovered; it is doubtful if it ever will,” said Tor.

“We must counter spreading hate against others just because they belong to a different faith or ethnic background,” urged German Ambassador to Korea Georg Schmidt in his remarks.

Schmidt stressed the need to remember the Holocaust and educate young people about this dark chapter in history.

He emphasized Germany's enduring responsibility to stand against hatred, antisemitism and Holocaust distortion.

Schmidt commended those who have demonstrated against neo-Nazi extremism, carrying the message, "'Never again' is now," in their hearts.

“How wonderful it is that no one has to wait but can start right now to change the world," Schmidt quoted the words of Anne Frank, who was sent to Auschwitz and died at the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp in 1944.

“Anne Frank’s diary has touched and will touch countless hearts all over the world,” said Schmidt.

Anne Frank, a Jewish girl, documented her family's two years in hiding during the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II. Her journal, "The Diary of a Young Girl," was first published in 1947, two years after Anne's death. The diary later became a classic of war literature.

Rep. Ha Tae-kyung of the ruling People Power Party spoke about the need to respect diversity and pursue equality for all races and cultures in his remarks at the event.

He highlighted the destructive consequences of hatred and discrimination, urging reflection on the history and lessons of the Holocaust to navigate the challenges faced by humanity today.

“We must respect diversity and pursue equality for all races and cultures. Unfortunately, the world today is filled with language filled with hate, division and hostility rather than respect for diversity. The ongoing war in Ukraine and Israel are also a result of this hostility," said Ha.

“Recently, I watched a video in the National Assembly documenting the atrocities committed by the Hamas terrorist group in Israel. It was devastating, and I felt sorry for their actions in rejecting humanity and human civilization,” Ha said.

“We must clearly recognize the destructive consequences that hatred and discrimination bring to humanity. We must go beyond simply remembering the Holocaust and reflect on its history and lessons. Only then can we properly judge what is currently happening in the world and find the direction in which we should move forward,” Ha continued.