måndag 23 januari 2012

The Holocaust, Raoul Walleberg and our reponsibility to act today

Inlägg i allmänpolitiska debatten på Europarådet i Strasbourg 23 januari 2012

Mr President, Dear colleges,
70 yers ago. In January, 1942, fifteen Nazi leaders came together in Wannsee, outside Berlin, to coordinate the so-called ”final solution”. This was the attempt to exterminate the entire Jewish population of Europe, an estimated 11 million people.

Now listen to this: In January 1942 ­– 80 % of the people that was killed by the Nazi’s were still alive. 80 %! December 31 that same year – 80 % of the people who was murdered in the holocaust had been killed.

There was a time to move, a window of opportunity. The countries of Europe cold have opened their borders for the Jewish refuges in 1933 -- when Hitler came to power -- or in 1938 -- after the Chrystal night. Or at least in 1942.

1938 all free countries meet in Évian in France – summoned by the US president Franklin Roosevelt – to discuss the humanitarian problem of the Jewish refugees.
As Hitler had annexed Austria and hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees were seeking a safe haven, the free world knew that something had to be done.

It soon became clear that the conference was not going to solve anything. To read the statements of the delegates today fills you with shame and indignation. Here was the powerful of the nations, and not one lifted a finger to rescue the persecuted. And – shamefully – my country, Sweden, is included among them.

But! – there always seems to be lights in the darkness.

One of them is Raoul Wallenberg. He was the young Swede, only 32 years of age, sent to Budapest in the end of WWII in order to use passports from neutral Sweden to protect Jews threatened with immediate deportation to the death camps. He and his collaborators saved tens of thousands of Jews.

Raoul Wallenberg risked his life in the struggle against one of the horrifying ideologies of the 20th century: Nazism. He was killed by the other: Communism.

This year, 2012, is the centennial of Raouls birth, on the 4th of August, and his memory is celebrated as a symbol of courage and unselfishness all over the world.

The legacy of Raoul and countless other men and women who performed heroic acts of rescuing the persecuted must not die.

Dear colleges,
You and I must not let the Holocaust be denied – trivialized – or forgotten. We must not let world leaders repeat it, even as we know that there are those who want to.

And we must also engage against persecutions of today that meet other minorities, such as the Christian minorities in Egypt and Pakistan -- or Nigeria where Boko Haram wants a religiously cleansed North. Now is our window of opportunity open.

Mikael Oscarsson
Riksdagsledamot, delegat till Europarådet