“Today, we solemnly remember the millions of victims who were methodically executed during the Holocaust. On this day, seventy-two years ago, the Nazi concentration and extermination camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau was finally liberated after five years of brutal operation. More than one million people perished in the most cruel and inhumane fashion at this evil institution. At Auschwitz, where suffering marked life and the gas chamber marked death, the whole world saw the depths to which humanity can sink when evil is left unchecked.
“While Auschwitz was the most visible symbol of the Holocaust, the Nazi desire to exterminate Jews saw them carry out their horrifying designs all across Europe. When the genocide finally came to an end, millions of Jews had been systematically slaughtered—among them, 1.5 million innocent children. Although Europe’s Jews were the Nazi’s chief targets, they killed many others on account of their religion, disability, political ideology, ethnicity and sexual orientation.
“We are reminded that even in those darkest times, there are those who worked to save others. Honorary Canadian citizen Raoul Wallenberg created a network to help those fleeing persecution. He worked with other diplomats from the Holy See and Switzerland to save even more lives.
“I remain proud that Canada joined the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance in 2009. This marked another step in guaranteeing that the memory of the Shoah is preserved for generations of Canadians to come, and reaffirms our commitment that this atrocity must never happen again.
“As we honour the legacies of the lives lost to Nazi evil, this is a time for all of us to reflect on our common humanity and our responsibility to use our collective voice to call out tyranny and oppression.”