Turkey, which had a fraught relationship with Israel even before nine of its citizens were killed in the Gaza flotilla raid in May – and which was scarcely appeased by the Jan. 23 release of a report on the raid favoring Israel – has surprisingly signed on to marking Jan. 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The date, chosen by the United Nations, is the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau on Jan. 27, 1945, by Soviet troops.
Turkey’s commemoration, its first, was scheduled to be held in the country’s largest synagogue, Neve Shalom, the site of fatal attacks in 1986 and 2003. According to the Jerusalem Post, the governor of Istanbul planned to be present and join in the candlelighting in memory of Shoah victims.
That’s heartening news – a bright spot on a dark day.
Also noteworthy with regard to the Holocaust was the apology Tuesday by Guillaume Pepy, chairman of France’s national railway, for the role it played in deporting Jews to concentration camps.
At a ceremony at a railway station in a Paris suburb – a station from which 20,000 Jews were deported, according to The New York Times, and which will become their memorial – Pepy said, “In the name of the SNCF,” the railway company, “I bow down before the victims, the survivors, the children of those deported, and before the suffering that still lives.”
What tarnishes that shining statement somewhat is the fact that it may well have been made under pressure. According to the Times, “[a] few months earlier, American lawmakers, survivors, and their descendants moved to block the SNCF from getting contracts in the United States if it did not admit its role â€¦ and make amends.”
Amends, of course, can never be made – some 76,000 Jews were deported from France into the hands of the Nazis. But it is good that they are remembered.