Holocaust memorial event held in Taipei to call for awareness of genocide, and respect for human rights

President Tsai Ing-wen says Taiwan will continue to join the international community in remembering the loss of lives during the Holocaust

The International Holocaust Remembrance Day event at the National Central Library

The International Holocaust Remembrance Day event at the National Central Library (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A solemn event commemorating International Holocaust Remembrance Day was held on Sunday at the National Central Library in Taipei City. The event served to raise the public awareness of the Holocaust and past suppression of human rights and freedom.

Attending the event for the second year in a row since taking office in 2016, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said the country wound continue to join the international community in remembering the individuals whose lives were cut short during the Holocaust.

The president also mentioned the National Human Rights Museum in Taiwan that is scheduled for opening in May, stating “we hope this museum will engage with institutions in Israel, Germany, and across Europe” in an effort to “strengthen human rights education for our next generation.”

The Israeli representative to Taiwan, Asher Yarden, during his address called for improving education in Taiwan about the Holocaust and the wrongdoings of Nazi Germany.

Yarden said we still witnessed the use of Nazi symbols, Nazi flags, Nazi gestures, and other unacceptable behaviors in the heart of Taipei City and other parts of Taiwan.

Referring to such unacceptable incidents in Taiwan as reflecting a lack of knowledge about the background of the Holocaust tragedy, Yarden said it was therefore necessary that young people in Taiwan should learn more about the history and lessons of the Holocaust.

"On the other hand, we also see developments that prove how determined the people of Taiwan and the government are to change this outrageous phenomena," added Yarden.

Expressing a similar sentiment, Martin Eberts, director general of the German Institute Taipei, said studying the history of the Holocaust was not a divisive experience but should be a healing one, and that people should not consider it as adding fire to a past conflict, nor as an act of revenge.

Eberts said knowledge of the Holocaust should be spread and passed on, especially in schools and universities around the globe, as learning about the sufferings of the Holocaust as well as its victims and survivors would prevent such a tragedy from happening again.

Holocaust education could also remind people of the beautiful examples of moral integrity, even saintly behaviors, that were displayed during that time, added Eberts.

The commemorative event also included performances of music and a reading of poetry that were created during or after the Second World War by those who were victims of the Nazi regime. In addition, a Jewish rabbi delivered a prayer with six candles in front of him, adding a sense of solemnity and religious spirit to the whole event.

The event has been held since 2015, co-hosted by the Israel Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei and the German Institute Taipei.

Approximately six million Jewish people were killed in the Holocaust, the genocide and ethnic cleansing carried out in the Second World War by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany. Including all ethnic minority groups, the mentally and physically disabled, and the homosexual people that were also murdered, the death toll is said to amount to more than 17 million.

Jan. 29 was designated by the United Nations in 2005 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On Jan. 29 1945, the army of the Soviet Union liberated those who were held captive in the Auschwitz concentration camp in the south of Poland, the biggest concentration camp that Nazi Germany built among nearly a thousand other similar facilities.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Day event at the National Central Library (Photos courtesy of Central News Agency)