Opinion piece from Prime Minister's Office

Swedish Prime Minister calls on world to fight for memory of the Holocaust

Published

Opinion Piece by Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, published in Yedioth Ahronoth on 21 January 2020.

Prime Minister Stefan Löfven
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven Photo: Kristian Pohl/Government Offices

On 27 January, it will be exactly 75 years since the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and extermination camp was liberated by Soviet troops. To commemorate the liberation, and participate in the Fifth World Holocaust Forum 2020, I am visiting Jerusalem and Yad Vashem this week.

The Holocaust (Shoah) fundamentally challenged the foundations of civilisation. The unprecedented character of the Holocaust will always hold universal meaning. Soon, the survivors will no longer be with us; at the same time antisemitism is growing around the world.

Antisemitism exists in many parts of society in many countries, including in my home country. In extreme right-wing groups, in parts of the left and in Islamist environments. It appears in the form of conspiracy theories on social media and in the denial and distortion of the Holocaust. We see antisemitism among adults and children who fled to Sweden from countries where hatred of Jews is fed by schools and state propaganda. I am deeply angry and concerned about this.

The Government I lead has taken a number of measures on Holocaust remembrance and for the safety of Jews in Sweden:

• The Government has appointed an all-party committee to consider the introduction of specific criminal liability for participation in a racist organisation and a ban on racist organisations.

• We have contributed funding to enable more young people to travel to Holocaust memorial sites in Europe, and more teachers and other public sector employees to receive education about the Holocaust. We will open a Holocaust museum in Sweden.

• We have increased resources to Jewish communities and other organisations to ensure their safety.

• The Living History Forum – a Swedish public authority tasked with educating people about antisemitism and racism using the Holocaust as a starting point – and The Segerstedt Institute at the University of Gothenburg have begun an educational cooperation project with Yad Vashem.

I have invited heads of state and government, researchers, experts and civil society representatives from around 50 countries to the city of Malmö, Sweden, on 26–27 October to jointly take concrete steps forward in the fight for Holocaust remembrance and against antisemitism.

This event is called the Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism. The choice of Malmö as the venue is important: Jews who fled across the Öresund strait and were saved from the concentration camps in the final stages of the war came to Malmö. But the situation concerning antisemitism in Malmö today is serious. We do not close our eyes to this fact. It is something we are tackling with determination.

Two of the starting points of the Malmö Forum 2020 are the Stockholm Declaration on education, remembrance and research about the Holocaust from January 2000, and the working definition of antisemitism adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). Sweden endorses the working definition and the list of examples of antisemitism that serve as illustrations.

Antisemitism is not a Jewish problem; it is a problem for all of us. We are working to make the Malmö Forum 2020 an international mobilisation for Holocaust remembrance and combating antisemitism.