IAC :: Remember the past, be responsible for the future

Stauffenbergstraße 13/14
10785 Berlin

fon: ++ 49 (030) 26 39 26 81
Telefax: ++ 49 (030) 26 39 26 83

URI: https://www.auschwitz.info/

Service navigation:
language navigation:
language navigation:

Press Information published by the International Auschwitz Committee


It is time to turn out in high numbers: open letter to the young people of Europe

IAC logo




Today, on 8 May, Auschwitz survivors in the International Auschwitz Committee are sending an open letter to the young people of Europe. They are urging them to use their votes wisely in the upcoming European elections, and to oppose parties that are aiming to undermine and destroy Europe through collective right-wing populist and extremist movements with their notoriously toxic strategies of fear, hatred and exclusion.

Survivors of the German concentration and extermination camps are being reminded of their own painful personal experiences, especially by the repeated and increasingly severe outbreaks of hostility towards Jewish people in many European societies. For this reason, the survivors have hope in their hearts and are counting on the active interest of the young people to uphold their vision of Europe as a place of remembrance, where democracy, tolerance, freedom of the press and human dignity have their home.  

Christoph Heubner, Executive Vice President of the International Auschwitz Committee stressed:

"In their open letter the survivors are appealing to the young people with profound trust and confidence: Time and again they have met them in contemporary witness talks in many European countries. They have experienced the young people as involved and deeply moved listeners, who have made it clear that they want to actively stand up for a world in which anything like Auschwitz will never again be possible. The Auschwitz survivors take this very seriously. That is why they hope that many young people in Europe will recognize the urgency of the present explosive situation in Europe, and act by taking part in the elections. Unlike in the Brexit referendum in the UK, the young people should now turn out in high numbers to vote and make their voices heard. Too much is a stake. Or, as the survivors never tire of saying: You have the choice – we didn’t!"

Here is the open letter to Europe’s young people:

To Europe’s young people!

We are turning to you today, as Holocaust survivors who were as young as you are now when we were imprisoned in the Nazi death camps.
After we were liberated, at the start of our second lives, most of us were entirely alone:

Almost all of our relatives, our parents, our siblings, were murdered by the Nazis in the gas chambers. They have no graves. Their ashes were thrown away.

We were freed from barbed wire, mortal fear and never-ending hunger, but not from our memories and nightmares. They, and the faces of our loved ones will be with us to the very end of our days.

After Auschwitz, it was impossible for us to imagine a world of hatred, anti-Semitism, nationalist and racist aggression: we wanted to live in a world without hatred towards Jewish people, without bloodshed and where no ashes are thrown away – for a common future of tolerance, human rights and democracy.

That’s why the idea and the development of the European Union was a sign of hope for us that has not simply remained some utopian dream: despite the mistakes, setbacks, and the bureaucratic blunders – the European Union still stands firm as a response to the history of Auschwitz and a glowing signal of hope.

Our Europe – a place of remembrance, where democracy, tolerance, freedom of the press and human rights are solidly upheld.

This Europe is not only our hope, it is your everyday life, your opportunity and your future. You have the choice – we didn’t!

But at the moment, more than ever before in its short history, your and our Europe is being threatened by new populist hatred, by anti-Semitism and aggressive racist ignorance. We feel ourselves being reminded of our own personal history: extreme right-wing and populist parties play on people’s fears. Their minds are full of ancient poison, and they reject the values that make Europe strong, just as vehemently as they deny the Holocaust and the common remembrance of our sufferings. They stand for everything that already destroyed Europe once before.

We are deeply concerned and are appealing to you: Take part in the European elections!
Vote against hatred and for a future in a tolerant Europe where life is worth living!


For further Information

Christoph Heubner

Executive Vice President
International Auschwitz Committee
Phone ++ 49 (0)30 26 39 26 81