Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has warned against the rise of far-right rhetoric in Ireland. “Many people in Ireland are rightly concerned about the rise of disinformation, antisemitism, all forms of racism and the trend towards Holocaust distortion and denial,” he said.
Speaking at a Holocaust Memorial event in Dublin’s Mansion House, Mr Varadkar said this year, the need to remember the horrors of the Holocaust seemed “particularly significant”.
“Peace is fragile. The rule of law, democracy and human rights must be actively protected. Vigilance remains the price of freedom. The need to be ever vigilant, to truly understand the extent of the dangers of dehumanising individuals,” he said.
Suzi Diamond, a survivor of a concentration camp, who along with her brother Terry, was taken to Ireland by a doctor immediately after the war, urged young people to “speak out about hate speech, about bullying, about Holocaust denial”.
She implored young people to “keep the memory of the Holocaust alive” as she felt “mindful that time is passing too quickly for my contemporaries and for me… What we experienced took place in the middle of the last century, far too distant for young people today to understand the enormity of what happened”.
Tomi Reichental, a survivor of the Holocaust who lives in Ireland, recalled being “herded into a cattle car and from that moment onwards, treated like animals” when he was captured at just nine years old, alongside his family members.
Between November 1944 until the liberation in April 1945, Mr Reichental remained at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
“What I witnessed as a nine-year-old boy is impossible to describe. The starvation, the cruelty of the camp guards, the cold and disease… In front of our barracks there were piles of decomposing corpses,” he said.
The role of far-right extremists in spreading antisemitism, as well denial and distortion of the Holocaust, was also highlighted at the commemoration by chair of Holocaust Education Ireland, Prof Thomas O’Dowd.