Today we pause to remember the 6 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and the millions of other victims of Nazism during the Second World War. As well as being an annual commemoration of all the precious lives lost during that appalling manifestation of evil, International Holocaust Remembrance Day is also a salutary recurrent reminder of the path that leads from fear and hatred of ‘the other’, through the denial of the human dignity and rights of all people equally, to genocide. Far from being an episode receding in increasingly distant history, the Holocaust remains an ever present threat. For Jewish people, Armenians, Rwandans and others who have experienced genocide, it is a permanent and indelible reality.
In recent years we have observed increasing licence being given to hate speech and demonization of others in political and public discourse. We have seen resurgent expressions of antisemitism and other group hatreds. And we have witnessed the impacts of these phenomena on our societies and relationships. At their June 2019 meeting, the World Council of Churches and the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations pledged to work together to oppose this widespread ‘normalization of hatred’.
On this International Holocaust Remembrance Day all people of faith and good will must recommit to the continuing challenge of resisting and challenging antisemitism and all such hatreds that deny the image of God in other human beings. In commemorating the victims of the Holocaust, we are called to speak and act to prevent its recurrence.
Geneva, 27 January 2021
Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca
Interim General Secretary
World Council of Churches