Simonetta Sommaruga, who holds the rotating Swiss presidency this year, visited Auschwitz-Birkenau on Monday for a ceremony commemorating the liberation of the concentration camp 75 years ago. She was accompanied by Swiss Holocaust survivors.
The Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in Poland has become a symbol of Nazi Germany’s policy of extermination, Sommaruga said in a message issued on the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust.
“In this year that marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the camps, we remember the millions of Jewish victims and survivors of the Shoah. We also remember the Sinti, Roma and Yenish and all others who suffered under National Socialism and were victims of Nazi barbarism,” she said.
Sommaruga recalled that Swiss nationals were also imprisoned in concentration camps and that almost half of them died there.
“Today, I would also like to honour their memory. My thoughts also go out to the Swiss survivors, who all too often experienced rejection and lack of empathy after the war,” she said.
She asked how many lives could have been saved in Europe at the time had more men and women said “no” to anti-Semitism and racism.
“The mistakes of the past cannot be erased, but we can learn from them, open our eyes and remain critical,” she said.