Sommaire: January 27, 2005: European Parliament - 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz (Brussels)
Debate on anti-semitism (26/01/05)
Martin SCHULZ (PES, DE) opened the debate as tabler of the oral question. "Auschwitz is naturally linked with the word Germany, and built by the people who have stained the name of my country like no one did before, " he said in response to some criticism from Polish MEPs, who wanted a clear signal in the resolution that Auschwitz was 'a German' death camp, even if it was placed in a Polish region. "As the chairman of the Socialist group in a multinational Parliament, I recognise that we as Germans have a special responsibility to fight against anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia", nevertheless, he continued, today people of all countries and nationalities (like Russia, Poland, Israel or Italy) could also join in remembrance of the Holocaust and contribute to returning some dignity to the victims.
On behalf of the EPP-ED group, Ewa KLAMT (DE) backed Schulz's words, saying: "as a German MEP I am very aware of all the actions committed by my people and I accept the responsibility of my people and my generation". We must never forget the crimes committed at the death camps, she continued, only remembrance of it would be useful to avoid this in the future. "All representatives of the EU together condemn any form of intolerance and anti-Semitism", she concluded.
No nation entirely innocent
Glyn FORD (UK) spoke for the Socialist group. At Auschwitz concentration camp, "the key players were German Nazis with their racial ideology," he said, but "the German Nazis were aided and abetted by those of all races and nations who actively colluded in this extermination and by those who said nothing and allowed evil to flourish. No nation in Europe was entirely innocent or entirely guilty". He mentioned Britain as an example, "where Britons in authority registered the Channel Islands' Jews, stamped "J" on their passports and arranged all too efficiently for their transport to Auschwitz, where without exception they were murdered. " Victims of the Holocaust did not want to discuss who made it possible, but just insist "never again.". However "the forgetting has started", he concluded mentioning recent declarations by Jean Marie LE PEN (NA, FR) that "Nazi occupation in France was not particularly inhuman" and the Nazi costume that Prince Harry wore to a fancy dress party.
On behalf of the ALDE group, Baroness Sarah LUDFORD (UK) agreed that "those who forget history are condemned to repeat history again". We still needed to fight today against current acts of racism, she added, and better education on the history of the Holocaust is essential. She supported the idea of naming 27 January as the European Holocaust Memorial Day and suggested that the proposal to ban the use of Nazi symbols like the swastika in Europe should be discussed.
Gisela KALLENBACH (DE), for the Greens/EFA group, strongly supported the content of the proposed joint resolution on anti-Semitism. "Unfortunately some people in the European Parliament still deny what happened then. It is good to give the chance to the EP to take a common position on that". In that sense, she complained that some politicians still support "anti-European and nationalist" ideas, like the Polish members who bring national flags to the EP plenary or the Saxony NPD representatives who opposed taking part in the commemoration of Auschwitz in Germany. She finally suggested that education on the Holocaust should be promoted by increasing the number of student exchanges and school visits to the Auschwitz camp.
Giusto CATANIA (IT) spoke for the GUE group: "We cannot limit ourselves to the remembrance of the Holocaust, there is a long way to go in a Europe which still does not stand clearly against war today. We have to fight against any form of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism".
"Falsification of History"
Representing the IND/DEM group, Bogdan PĘK (PL) felt that he needed to respond to an attack on Poland. "On behalf of the Polish Members of Parliament, I wish to say that the Holocaust was an unprecedented crime. But we have a particular view on this resolution. The western media finds it hard to understand our reaction." He then explained that the "English language press" often refers to "Polish concentration camps", which was a "gross falsification of history." In his belief, "we should refer to German concentration camps, in German-occupied Poland. " He added, "We all agree that Guantanamo is not a Cuban camp, for example."
For Cristiana MUSCARDINI (IT), on behalf of the UEN group, it was upsetting to see that "despite the Jewish tragedy, there is still anti-Semitism in Europe". Moreover, "even in the European Parliament", people "bear prejudices" regarding the State of Israel. She stressed the need to fight in order to prevent the possibility of genocide happening again. "No one should take democracy and human rights for granted", she added.
The non-attached member Frank VANHECKE (BE) said he had expected a more reasonable text to remember the Nazi crimes to the public opinion, but the resolution proposed "doesn't have this spirit". The text mixed elements from the Second World War with the present appearance of political parties, he complained; "my party is not racist, but it is labelled as such by the resolution because it supports some nationalist elements. Some members want to demonise certain political parties".