Speech by Moshe Kantor during the Closing Session

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In concluding our Forum I promise I’ll be brief, because everything has already been said. It was very profound and I don’t want to intrude upon the intensity of feeling we all now share in this room. But I do want just to remind you of some facts.

First of all, we have here in this room one hundred survivors and one liberator of Auschwitz. Please let’s applaud them.

Thank you!

Let’s remind ourselves of what the Holocaust was in reality. It was 1,100 death and concentration camps that imprisoned 10 million slaves, where millions of Jews died, or were eventually liberated by the Allied Forces of the United States, Great Britain, France and, of course, the Soviet Union, which played the leading role. And I will strongly support a move by such a union as that, the liberators of Auschwitz, Terez.n, Buchenwald and Drancy, to take again a leading position in the fight against radical Islam, neo-Nazism and anti-Semitism. Such a power would be the strongest, but of course today we have another power, which could be a forceful ally in this fight. That is the European Union.

I want to remind you of another historical fact. During the liberation of Auschwitz the man who opened the gates – with his own hands – was a Jewish guy. And that’s very symbolic. He was Anatoly Shapiro, a major in the Red Army. I knew him. Eleven years ago I met him in New York, and he amazed me. He was 93 years old, and had written a book of poetry. Of course, I immediately helped him to publicize this book. Its title was Terrible Marathon, about the non-stop wars of the 20th and 21st centuries. And I asked him, ‘Anatoly, please tell me. What is your message to future generations?’ When he replied, he was crying. ‘Please, tell all people, you are responsible for your future.’ And he repeated it few times. Responsible, responsible!… It is very important to understand just now that we are responsible for our future.

Exactly as it is said, God nurtures the seeds of salvation only in one case: if we people put these seeds in the soil. We only have one chance. And I want to conclude with words of appreciation to President Zeman, who is our host today. Staging such sharp debates as we witnessed yesterday is a courageous undertaking. Thank you very much!

But my special words of appreciation go to you, my dear friend Martin Schulz. For years and years, every year, you have supported our events and, more importantly, you support us between these events, all the time.

You know, the Holocaust started not in this building where Heydrich’s office was, not even during Kristallnacht and not even during the experiment with the St. Louis, a special vessel organized by Hitler to dispatch one thousand Jews to America and the rest of Europe. Nobody helped them, and this experiment demonstrated to him that crimes against Jews would not be punished.

No. The Holocaust started with Nuremberg legislation, as we all know. That’s why, you parliamentarians, I beg you, please, start legislative procedures to protect all of us, not only Jews but all of us, and I have no objection to this being called the Prague Legislation.

This brings us to the conclusion of our programme, after the minute of silence. Then we are going to Terezin, to the Ceremony of Commemoration. I want to express my deepest gratitude and appreciation to all of you who came today. Thank you very, very much!