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April 1, 2021 12:44 pm

Presidency of International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Passes to Greece

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Part of an exhibit on the Holocaust supported by the IHRA. Photo: courtesy of IHRA.

The chairmanship of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance officially passed to Greece on Thursday, with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis saying the country’s focus would be assuring that the Holocaust will not be forgotten as it begins to pass out of living memory.

In a video released by the IHRA, Mitsotakis said that “to remember is to be human; to educate on events past, the responsibility of the present.”

“As the years pass, it is our duty to tell this story,” he said. “To preserve the memory, to learn the lessons, to never, never forget.”

Today’s children, he said, must be taught about the Holocaust “so that they understand the depth to which mankind’s cruelty can plunge.”

Noting that Greece is marking the bicentennial of its war of independence, which was based on humanist principles, he added, “Our commitment to fighting racism and antisemitism sits at the heart of those values and freedoms.”

The new IHRA chairman, Ambassador Chris J. Lazaris, said that “the thread running through this presidency will be teaching the Holocaust; including combating denial and distortion in the new fields now opened by the net.”

The Berlin-headquartered organization, founded in 1988, includes 34 member countries and counting — with the most recent addition of Portugal, in 2019. The group’s presidency rotates among them annually.

The outgoing chairwoman, German Ambassador Michaela Küchler, spoke about the accomplishments of the IHRA despite the COVID-19 pandemic. “Being able to work together across time zones, from Winnipeg to Berlin to Melbourne, required more than just a working microphone and a stable internet connection,” she said. “It required all of us to want to get something done. And we did.”

Israel’s embassy in Greece said that it “extends its best wishes for a productive and eventful year.”

“Greece taking the leadership of the IHRA during its 200 Anniversary of the Greek War of Independence is a significant message at home and beyond,” the embassy said in a statement.

“The Embassy of Israel is committed to cooperate with the Greek Chair of IHRA and authorities in sharing the story of Greek Jewish Life, the contribution of the Jewish Community to the country, the horrors of the Holocaust, and the important acts of heroism of individuals who came to the rescue,” it continued. “We should learn, remember, honor the memory, and follow the moral lesson of Never Again.”

The German embassy in the US also issued a statement, saying that on the occasion of the handover, “we celebrate accomplishments with partners.”

“We’ve promoted the IHRA definition of antisemitism, pushed Holocaust education, and called out Holocaust distortion,” it said. “Vigilance against antisemitism and anti-gypsyism is never over!”

Watch the full IHRA video below:

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