Looking back International Holocaust Remembrance Day The Hague 2023

Did you miss the International Holocaust Remembrance Day-The Hague lecture last week? Perhaps you were present but would like to hear the lecture or other speeches once again? Thankfully we have everything recorded and you are welcome to view them at your convenience.

With satisfaction and thankfulness we look back to a worthy and successful event on Monday, 30 January 2023. The auditorium of the Academy Building of the Peace Palace was full to capacity and the various contributors to the program each delivered meaningful messages which undoubtedly remained with the listeners and will keep them thinking.

The Honorable Jan van Zanen, Mayor of The Hague, described the worst crime ever to take place in the "city of Justice and Peace," the deportation and murder of more than twelve thousand of its residents.

Listen to a moving testimony of Deborah (Borie) Maarsen-Laufer, recalling the bravery of her parents - clinging to their faith and displaying spiritual resistance despite the darkness and evil that surrounded them. Mrs Maarsen displays this strength in her own life and concludes with the words: “We do not fear, do not despair and don’t lose hope; not then, not now, not ever! Am Yisrael Chai.”

In her introduction to the keynote speech, H.E. Judge Graciela Gatti Santana, President of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, displays how it indeed took many decades after the Eichmann Trial for victims not to be considered as passive recipients of justice, but as active participants and even drivers in the justice cycle. It was not until the Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia that Rachel Auerbach’s vision was put into practice. Nevertheless, the journey is not over...

Professor Leora Bilsky in her keynote speech ‘Rachel Auerbach: The Eichmann Trial and a new concept of victim testimony’ Explains Auerbach’s unique vision on the power of witness accounts in trials of genocide and crimes against humanity. During the Eichmann Trial her ideas did not come to full fruition. She was ahead of her time. The counter-poles of 'Cultural Genocide' being perpetrated by the Nazis and 'Spiritual Resistance' being displayed by the Jewish victims was an important driving force in Auerbach’s life-work.

"Record everything! Film everything!", said General Eisenhower just after the liberation of the concentration camps. "For the horrors are so great that sooner or later people will not believe, indeed deny, that they ever happened." Minister of Justice and Security of the Netherlands, H.E. Ms. Dilan Yesilgöz Zegerius fears that we have come to that point. In her reflective remarks she laments the fact that "Many young people think that the horrors of the Holocaust are grossly exaggerated." That is why it is so important that we continue to commemorate and educate.

"The Eye That Saw and Bore Witness.” You can watch as H.E. Ambassador Modi Ephraim of Israel pays tribute to six photographers who documented the Holocaust, Their pictures and films have turned us all into witnesses. Borie Maarsen-Laufer then kindles candles for Maria Austria, Rudolf Werner Breslauer, H.C. Damen, Jan Duimel, Johan de Haas and Lydia van Nobelen-Rizouw while commemorating the six million victims of the Holocaust.

Rabbi Shmuel Katzman closes the event by appealing to the audience to use their spiritual eye and see what we believe to be the truth "Believing that we were not placed in a jungle just to survive, we are rather entrusted with a garden that allows us all to thrive, to see the beautiful colors and shapes of the trees and plants, to smell the wonderful fragrances of the fruits and flowers, to feel the desire to live a life full of purpose. If the taste is bitter, perhaps we must first peel away the outer shell to find the fruit inside."

This story has been contributed by CHAJ cultural foundation of the Jewish community of The Hague.