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World Marks Holocaust Remembrance Day

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish visitors look at a display of Nazi flags at Yad Vashem's Holocaust History Museum in Jerusalem.
Events are being held around the world to mark the International Day in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust.

January 27, 1945, was the day Soviet troops liberated the German Nazi-run Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Poland, and it was designated Holocaust remembrance day by the United Nations in 2005.

This year's theme is "Rescue During the Holocaust: The Courage To Care," honoring people who risked their lives to save Jews and others from almost certain death under Nazi rule.

In a statement, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the example of those who risked their lives to save Jews and others from mass extermination should inspire the people of today to take action for a better world.

European Parliament President Martin Schulz marked the event by inaugurating the Raoul Wallenberg room at the European Parliament building. Wallenberg was a Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Jews from the death camps.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara, who is chairperson-in-office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), called for "renewed efforts to fight intolerance, discrimination, and hate crimes."

Leaders Speak Out

In Washington, the White House issued a statement saying that Holocaust Remembrance Day is "a time for action" as well as "a time for mourning and reflection."

In Moscow, Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar presided over a candle-lighting ceremony at the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center. Lazar said that there's always a risk of history repeating itself.

He praised the Soviet Red Army and its allies "who paid in blood for bringing peace to Europe."

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban condemned anti-Semitism.

In the past, Orban's government has been accused of being slow to condemn anti-Semitic statements by politicians and the Hungarian media.

In December, a lawmaker with the opposition far-right Jobbik party called for the creation of a list of Hungarian Jews, arguing that they could pose a national security risk by promoting Israel's interests.

In early 1944, the Nazis, with the help of the Hungarian authorities, rounded up some 600,000 Jews and sent them to Auschwitz where most of them were gassed. Some 100,000 Jews live today in Hungary.

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi attended a ceremony in Milan at which he said that Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini "did many things right." He said Mussolini's biggest mistake was his racial policies.

Some 6 million European Jewish children, women, and men died in the Holocaust.
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