On the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz
My Short speech from London City Council Meeting on January 27, 2015:
Today I am humbled to address this chamber as we mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz, the largest and most infamous camp run by the Nazi’s, where over 1 million people were murdered by one of the greatest evils this world has ever known.
Since the end of World War 2, Auschwitz has become a symbol of the Holocaust and the atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis, with the targeted mass murder of Jews, as well the murder of many others based on their race, religion, sexual orientation, or disability.
The significance of this day is not lost on me. I can honestly say that without the liberation of Auschwitz, I and many others would not be here today. I am fortunate and extremely proud to be the grandson of a survivor of Auschwitz. However, not all were so fortunate. Brothers lost sisters. Husbands lost wives. Parents lost children. Children became orphans. And some families were wiped out entirely. On this day it is especially important that we honour the memory of those who perished.
One message I grew up with from my family and grandparents was Never Forget. With the population of survivors dwindling, it is more important than ever that we remind ourselves of these real events which took place. I say real because even for someone like myself who has been to the camps, who has walked along the same railroad tracks which once carried cattle cars full of innocents to their unavoidable and tragic fate, who has seen the gas chambers which were used for such ruthless execution, even after all these first-hand experiences, it is unbelievable to think that humans could be capable of such things, that such evil could exist in the world. But they did.
We are fortunate to live an incredible country like Canada and a tremendous City like London with a wonderfully diverse and understanding community. We must be cognisant though, that even in 2015, discrimination and hatred of all kinds still exists.
It is imperative for the entire community, but especially for us as elected public officials, to convey the message that no matter your race, religion, sexual orientation, we are all equal. That we need to treat one another in such a manner with the respect we would want someone to give us, in the hopes that with common ground and mutual respect, we can work together to ensure that something like the holocaust never happens again.