The United States and Germany on Thursday urged greater efforts to combat Holocaust denial and belittle it, warning against inaction in the face of the spread of conspiracy theories on the Internet.
The foreign ministers of the two allies announced new initiatives to look at more “innovative” ways to highlight the Holocaust that killed 6 million Jews, as well as other minorities such as Roma and gays.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, whose mother married a death camp survivor in Auschwitz and Dachau, said the Holocaust represented “a gradual retreat into darkness” and was aimed at “discrediting and dehumanizing people”.
He added, during his visit to the memorial to commemorate the Jews who were murdered in Europe, that “this understanding is especially urgent today with the departure of the survivors among us and the rise of the voices of those who deny the scorched earth and touching them with new malicious ways to spread their lies,” referring to a sharp rise in anti-Semitic content on the network Internet.
Blinken’s impact was evident when listening to 99-year-old Margot Friedlander, a Holocaust survivor who gives several lectures a week about her experience, as she tells how her mother, who perished in the Holocaust, left her a necklace and a message saying, “Try to make your life.”
“You’ve done something amazing in the first 100 years of your life. We’ll have to wait for the next 100 years to see what you do next,” Blinken was heard squatting beside her in a conversation as he squatted down beside her seat.
His German counterpart Heiko Maas expressed his anger at the anti-Covid vaccine protesters who put the yellow badges that Germany had forced Jews to hang on their clothes, linking the rise of conspiracy theories to the storming of the US Capitol on January 6.
“The strength of America, Germany, and Europe do not come from glorifying history or polishing the mistakes of the past,” Maas said.
“Our strength lies in bearing the burdens of historical responsibility on our shoulders, without reservations, and in uniting our efforts in the search for the best way forward,” he added.