Dear participants of the Plenary meetings of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA),
For more than 20 years the IHRA has been bringing governments and experts together and working in the fields of education, remembrance and research. The IHRA Plenary meetings provide an important international forum for jointly preserving and strengthening the memory of the Holocaust.
The acknowledgement of Germany’s responsibility for the unspeakable crimes perpetrated against millions of people was and is a deciding factor in Germany’s status today as a free and democratic country. Efforts to preserve remembrance are also a central concern for us in Berlin. For Berlin is inextricably bound to the history of the Holocaust. As well as memorial sites and places of remembrance such as the House of the Wannsee Conference and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Berlin is home to many civil society initiatives and dedicated individuals who are persistently working to maintain a vibrant culture of remembrance. We must continue to encourage this activity in future.
It is important that this culture of remembrance is supported by the democrats in our city in a way that transcends party lines. Our democracy depends on us getting to grips with our past and doing everything in our power to ensure that a crime like the Holocaust cannot be repeated. We have achieved a considerable amount in this regard. And the fact that Jewish life in Berlin has been able to flourish once again, and that many Jews have been able to regain trust in our city and in this country is a priceless gift.
Yet we also know that antisemitism and the denial or diminishing of the Holocaust remain serious problems today. Antisemitic incidents in our country have increased – and that calls us to act.
In Berlin we are using various measures to tackle antisemitism and strengthen civil society engagement. For me it is extremely important that last year we were the first Land to adopt a concept for the further development of antisemitism prevention measures. The IHRA’s working definition of antisemitism forms an important basis for this concept, and the IHRA’s activity is highly significant for our city. I therefore regret all the more that this year, when Germany holds the IHRA chairmanship, I am unable to welcome you to the Rotes Rathaus as planned due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, I am delighted that Berlin has the privilege of being your virtual host, and wish you fruitful consultations. I send you the best wishes of the people of Berlin!