“Let My People Live!”
The Fourth International Forum

The Fourth
"Let My People Live"

26-27 JANUARY 2015

Forum's Brochure

The Fourth International “Let My People Live!” Forum was held in Prague and Terezin (Czech Republic) on 26-27 January 2015 to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. The two-day event consisted of two major parts, the Forum of World Civil Society held at Prague Castle and the commemorative ceremony in Terezin.

The Forum, organised by the EJC and the WHF in collaboration with the European Parliament and its President Martin Schulz, was attended by over 900 guests, including 30 official delegations and representatives of parliaments, European Heads of state as well as experts and scholars from Europe, United States and Canada, who gathered together to participate in three discussion panels focused on antisemitism, neo-Nazism and religious radicalism.

National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Abraham Foxman, historian and Yale University professor Timothy Snyder, American historian and author Alan Dershowitz, former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, MP Irwin Cotler, French writer and philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy,  Vera Jourova, European Commissioner for Justice, and other preeminent individuals took part in the various panels on the Forum’s first day.

EJC President Moshe Kantor, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, speaker of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Parliament Jan Hamáček and President of the Czech Senate Milan Štěch addressed the audience.

On 27 January 2015, Czech President Miloš Zeman hosted the final session of the Forum and addressed the audience at the official ceremony to commemorate the Holocaust’s victims alongside Rosen Plevneliev, President of Bulgaria, Yuli Yoel Edelstein, Speaker of the Knesset and EJC President Moshe Kantor.

At the conclusion of the Fourth International Holocaust Forum, 25 Speakers from Parliaments across the continent came together to adopt a historic document – The Prague Declaration on Combatting Antisemitism and Hate Crimes.

Subsequently, a commemorative ceremony took place in Theresienstadt, a concentration camp that served as a transit station on the way to other death camps.

The Forum concluded with the unveiling of the Monument offered by the EJC and its President Moshe Kantor to the Terezin Memorial to honour the memory of the victims.


On behalf of the European Jewish Congress, federating all the national representative organizations of the Jewish communities on this continent, thank you for the commitment you have shown to our common values of peace, unity and tolerance by taking part in The Fourth International ‘Let My People Live!’ Forum here in the Czech Republic.

This year, we mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camps. Few of those who directly encountered those horrors lived to share their experiences. And as the years pass by, sadly still fewer are here to personally impart the lessons of these terrible events. As memory fast becomes history, their experiences, Europe’s own experience of Nazism, totalitarianism, intolerance, war and destruction, fades into the back of our minds.

Direct transition of experience can apply at most from the first to the third generation, to the personal connection of grandchild and grandparent. The time has now come when we require other forms, such as education in society, modernization of legislations and direct governmental influence in order to be truly immune from repeating the mistakes of the past.

Seventy years, a lifetime later, we run the danger of forgetting where nationalism, chauvinism, racism and anti-Semitism can lead. But we also forget where misplaced tolerance towards those who would seek to destroy our societies also leads. More than anywhere else on this continent, here in the Czech Republic we saw what happened when there was a tolerance of extremism and a misplaced desire for a quiet life that caused us to deliberately avoid the real issues that plagued our societies. The failure to tackle Nazism and the appeasement that allowed it to swallow up the infant Czechoslovak democracy did not lead to peace, it led to war.

And for many years afterwards, this continent remained divided.

Today, together, we have a unique chance to address some of the causes of our previous greatest tragedy in order to ensure that it will not be repeated. Our gatherings here of the most senior political decision-makers and our discussions among intellectuals, opinion-formers and leaders will address the most pressing issues facing all of our societies.

Each of you has a unique contribution to make to our collective Forum, based on your own experiences to the challenges we all share and from which none of us is immune. In our 21st-century Europe, we face new challenges of globalization, economic uncertainty and depression, the positive – but also sometimes corrosive – nature of mass communications, and perhaps, our greatest current threat of all, religious extremism and fundamentalism.

We will not hide here from addressing these most sensitive subjects affecting the citizens of Europe, and neither will we push aside a real examination of their roots and causes as well as proposals for practical solutions. Indeed, Czech history, Europe’s most recent history and the site of the Terez.n death camp bear absolute testimony to why we cannot do otherwise.

May I take this opportunity to thank President Miloš Zeman, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and the government of the Czech Republic, as well as the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, for being our partners on this Forum and for understanding the absolute urgency to act now before it is too late.

Let all of the peoples of Europe live.

Youtube play_arrow HIGHLIGHTS pause

In this office Reinhard Heydrich, chief of the Reich Main Security Office, drew up plans for the ‘Final Solution to the Jewish Question’.

The Location
Prague Castle

The first part of our Forum is held in the Prague Castle, today the seat of the President of the Czech Republic.

The buildings that make up the Prague Castle complex, the largest palace area in the world, stretch back to 880 ad. They have witnessed some of the most important as well as some of the most horrific events throughout European history. This Castle, this city and this country always played a crucial role in developments which shaped the continent.

But little more than a couple of generations ago, these buildings and the events and personalities present within it, symbolized the very beginnings of Nazi terror as the jackboot of Nazism came down upon Europe.

Here, the puppet regime was installed after the shameful Munich agreement of September 1938 in which democratic Czechoslovakia was dismantled and its border regions attached to the ‘Third Reich’, becoming later one of the victims of the so-called ‘Kristallnacht’. That was only a beginning in the Nazi plan to rule the world.

And it was from here, from his fiefdom in the Prague Castle, that one of the major architects of the Shoah, Reinhard Heydrich, installed here as the ‘Deputy Protector’, masterminded his plans to exterminate all Jews of Europe. From here came Heydrich’s direct orders for the  Einzatzgruppen units of the SS to rampage and murder the Jewish communities of Eastern Europe.

Special Message by: Martin Schulz President, European Parliament In light of the commitment of the European Jewish Congress to promoting tolerance and combating racism, it was with great pleasure that I granted the high patronage of the European Parliament to this major European event.
The European Parliament has always been a fierce defender of democracy and respect for all human beings, regardless of their ethnicity, religions or beliefs, and highly values its cooperation with the European Jewish Congress in raising awareness of the atrocities committed during the Holocaust.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day has been established as an annual event, but there is still a need to stress that democratic standards, tolerance and the right of all people to be viewed and respected first and foremost as individuals should be common practice.

What we have learnt from the past – from the horrors committed in the name of a belief that one’s race or nation is better than all others, and from the Holocaust more particularly – is that such ideas easily lead to monstrous crimes against humanity.

As a tribute to all the victims, it is our duty not to allow it ever to happen again.
Special Message by: Miloš Zeman President, Czech Republic Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

I am deeply honoured to welcome you to this , the Fourth International Holocaust Forum, entitled ‘Let My People Live!’. With the generous help of Dr Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress, Mr Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament and patron of the Forum, and in partnership with the European Union institutions, the Terezín Memorial and Yad Vashem we have put together a remarkable and stimulating programme.

The Czech Republic hopes to dedicate this Fourth International Holocaust Forum to the promotion of tolerance and education. It is therefore my greatest wish that the Forum will provide the crucial political impetus for teaching lessons of the past to young generations, as without such memory there cannot be a peaceful and tolerant tomorrow.

Throughout the Forum several discussion panels are going to be held focusing on the impact and how to combat the rise of anti-Semitism, racism and extremism in European civil society. Speakers at these panel discussions include renowned politicians such as Mr Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament and Mr Yuli-Yoël Edelstein, Speaker of the Knesset as well as distinguished professors such as Mr Alan Morten Dershowitz, Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and Mr Timothy David Snyder, Professor of History at Yale University. In addition, the Forum will be followed by a unique and unforgettable Commemoration Ceremony at the former concentration camp in Terezín.

Dearest guests, allow me to welcome you once again at the Prague Castle. As the patron of this significant event, I hope that together we will lay the foundations for a better future to honour our common past.
Special Message by: Jean-Claude Juncker President, European Commission Just a few weeks after Adolf Hitler came to power, the first state-organized attacks on opponents of the regime and on Jews were carried out across Germany. Less than two weeks later, Dachau, the first Nazi concentration camp, was opened.

The fortified city of Terezín was transformed in 1941 into a ghetto whose inhabitants were destined to be transferred to the gas chambers of Auschwitz. Terezín served the Nazis as a perversely titled ‘model Jewish city’ for propaganda purposes. The prisoners’ determination to live, reflected by the cultural and educational activities in the ghetto amidst appalling circumstances, remains an impressive testimony to this day.

Today we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau as well as the many hundreds of camps created with the specific purpose of exterminating the Jewish people – a people that had enriched life in Europe for two millennia.

Europe has come a long way since those darkest of days. The creation of the European Community was inspired by the deep conviction of the founding-fathers, whose cry was ‘Never again!’. Today, the European Union is an important guarantor for all citizens, including the Jewish people, fighting anti-Semitism wherever it rears its ugly head and promoting peace and tolerance among the peoples of Europe – a Union where we strive to ensure that Jews can live the lives they wish to live in security and contribute to the flourishing of our societies.

Against this backdrop of our commitment to the Jewish people of Europe, I have watched with growing unease the recent rise of anti-Semitic behaviour and statements in several European countries. Public incitement to violence or hatred, anti-Semitic hate speech and Holocaust denial must be strongly condemned. Such racism has no place in Europe; it is against our fundamental values and our firm belief in the protection of minorities. The European Commission will be rigorous in ensuring that all citizens are protected by the fundamental rights of freedom of thought, conviction and religion.

It is a blessing to have some of the survivors of the Holocaust among us today. It shall be our firm resolve that Europe’s next generations of politicians, teachers and citizens will continue to honour and remember their lives and suffering, and those of the millions who perished at the hands of the Nazi regime. By remembering those who perished, through instituting proper education about the past and all that it means for us today, we will ensure that those who come after us can understand and cherish the eternal values of liberty, tolerance and respect for humanity.

"If history is to teach us anything, it is this sad axiom: those who start with hunting down and killing Jews invariably continue with discriminating, suppressing, and finally murdering everybody who disagrees with tyranny, suffocation of freedom, oppression and humiliation."
Excerpt from the Introductory Speech by Dr. Moshe Kantor

PANEL 1 The role of the media & public figures Moderator:
Stephen Sackur
BBC Hard Talk

Bernard-Henri Lévy
Renowned French author and philosopher

Abraham Foxman
National Director of the Anti-Defamation League

Timothy Snyder
Professor at Yale University/Historian
PANEL 2 The role of Legislation and Law Enforcement Participants:
Irwin Cotler
International Human Rights Lawyer

Alan Dershowitz
International Lawyer and Professor

Yoram Dinstein
Former President of Tel-Aviv University

Věra Jourová
European Union Commissioner of Justice

PANEL 3 The role of Politicians Participants:
Cemil Çiçek
Speaker of the National Assembly in Turkey

Jan Hamáček
Chairman of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Parliament

Yuli-Yoel Edelstein
Speaker of the Knesset

Ilyas Umakhanov
Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of Russia

Valeriu Ștefan Zgonea
President of the Chamber of Deputies of Romania

PANELS The role of the media & public figures The role of Legislation and Law Enforcement The role of Politicians


We, the Round Table of Speakers of Parliament gathered here today in Prague for the 70th commemoration ceremony of the Holocaust, express our grave concern about the rise in the verbal, digital and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism and hate crimes, predominately in Europe but also worldwide, directed towards Jewish individuals and communities, institutions and religious facilities.

Anti-Semitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity and is often used to blame them for ‘why things go wrong’. It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms, social networks, demonstrations and actions. Anti-Semitism employs sinister stereotypes and negative character traits. Contemporary examples of anti-Semitism in public life include the distortion or denial of the Holocaust with the intention of hurting Jews around the world and the State of Israel.

Indeed, many Jews experience an inability to express themselves in public as Jews without fearing verbal or bodily harm. These experiences are supported by findings of research recently undertaken by respectable international NGOs and intergovernmental bodies such as the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (2013).

As heads of parliaments, we wish to make it clear that anti-Semitism, as well as other hate crimes, constitute problems for every society in which they are allowed to manifest. History teaches us that for evil to prevail over good, all that is needed is for decent people to remain indifferent, silent and complacent while the immoral and hateful few gain power. This is why it is imperative that parliaments, governments, international organizations and civil societies around the world adopt a ‘Zero-Tolerance’ policy towards these phenomena.

We believe this can be achieved through a threefold approach: education, legislation and enforcement of laws against hate crimes.

The Round Table recommends, therefore, the establishment of an inter-parliamentarian Working Group to draft legal proposals strengthening tolerance and combating various forms of hatred and incitement to hatred in the spirit of this Declaration.

The President of the European Parliament is invited to make a call for such a meeting.

Moshe Kantor
Miloš Zeman
The condemnation of the Holocaust is something on which we all agree. We all agree that we must not allow it to happen again. But I fear that we do not pay enough attention to the deep causes of the emergence of the Holocaust. And that we sometimes perceive them as insignificant. Let me mention three small examples. One of the most prominent Czech journalists, Ferdinand Peroutka, wrote an article in the prestigious magazine Přítomnost (‘The Presence’) entitled ‘Hitler is a Gentleman’. The same journalist wrote, after the Munich Agreement, ‘If we cannot sing with the angels, we must howl with the wolves.’ My beloved Winston Churchill wrote to Adolf Hitler in January 1939 that if Britain were hit by a catastrophe, he would wish it to be headed by a man with Hitler’s strong will. And, finally, Nobel Prize winner Knut Hamsun – you may have read his Hunger or Victoria – wrote an obituary of Adolf Hitler in May 1945.

What makes intellectuals fascinated by an absolutely atrocious doctrine? What makes Dr Jekyll turn into Mr Hyde? It is the effort to overcome one’s own frustration by ousting a minority, whatever it be, from society, and in this respect the Holocaust begins with the first park bench on which a Jew is forbidden to sit. A gas chamber is only the culmination, not the beginning of the Holocaust. And we must ask whether a relapse is possible, even one of bigger dimensions, which would not afflict six million Jews, but it would afflict the followers of a number of religions, atheists and even Muslims.
Full Speech
Martin Schulz
Rosen Plevneliev
Yuli-Yoël Edelstein
Miloš Zeman MARTIN SCHULZ Rosen Plevneliev Yuli-Yoël Edelstein Closing Session MOSHE KANTOR

Artistic Performance

Yellow Stars Concerto
Composer: Issac Schwartz

Yellow Stars’, or ‘Purim spiel’, is a seven-part concerto for orchestra. The Concerto was written in the memory of the victims of the Holocaust in a language of sound that is powerful, beautiful, comprehensible and touching. The Concerto is a lyrical hymn and a tribute to the courage, wisdom, dignity and sense of unity of the people who overcame their fear of death.

The Concerto was first performed in 1998 and the ‘Neva time’ Newspaper wrote this critique after the premiere: ‘We have not heard in the Philharmonic new music of such poignant sincerity and beauty.’

The work owes its genesis to Isaac Schwartz as it is a rendition in reflection upon his life during the War in the Kovno ghetto in Lithuania. It is especially moving in the composer’s description of Purim – a ‘fun’ holiday that has become inhumane in deadly conditions. Schwartz’s work is dedicated jointly to Raoul Wallenberg and to Vladimir Spivakov.


Press About the Forum

Press Release

In the News

"Let My People Live" International Forum 2015 PHOTO GALLERY 26 JANUARY 2015 SPANISH HALL, PRAGUE CASTLE Opening of the Session 26 JANUARY 2015 MUNICIPAL HOUSE, PRAGUE Official Dinner 27 JANUARY 2015, ARTISTIC PERFORMANCE, PRAGUE CASTLE Yellow Stars Concerto by Isaac Schwartz 27 JANUARY 2015, TEREZIN, CZECH REPUBLIC International Holocaust Remembrance Day Ceremony Opening of the Forum Official Dinner Artistic Performance Terezin Commemoration Ceremony