The world marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Sunday amid a revival of hate-inspired violence and signs that younger generations know less and less about the genocide of Jews, and others during World War II.
In Poland, which was under Nazi German occupation during the war, a far-right activist who has been imprisoned for burning the effigy of a Jew gathered with other nationalists Sunday outside the former death camp of Auschwitz ahead of official ceremonies remembering the 1.1 million people murdered there.
Since last year’s observances, an 85-year-old French Holocaust survivor, Mireille Knoll, was fatally stabbed in Paris and 11 Jews were gunned down in a Pittsburgh synagogue during Shabbat services, the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history.
Human Rights First, a U.S. organization, recalled those killings and warned that “today’s threats do not come solely from the fringe.”
“In places such as Hungary and Poland, once proudly democratic nations, government leaders are traveling the road to authoritarianism,” said Ira Forman, the group’s senior adviser for combating anti-Semitism. “As they do so, they are distorting history to spin a fable about their nations and the Holocaust.”
The Polish nationalist, Piotr Rybak, said his group was protesting the Polish government, accusing it of remembering only murdered Jews and not murdered Poles in yearly observances at Auschwitz.
That accusation is incorrect. The observances at the memorial site pay homage each Jan. 27 to all of the camp’s victims, both Jews and Gentiles.
Counter-protesters at Auschwitz on Sunday held up a “Fascism Stop” sign and an Israeli flag, while police kept the two groups apart.
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