When we say 'never again' we must mean it - President Metsola addresses Spanish Senate 


On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola addressed a special ceremony at the Spanish Senate. In her address, she said that remembrance without resolve is hollow and awareness without action does not prevent atrocities from happening again.

© European Union | The President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola with the President of the Senate in Spain Ander Gil

President Ander Gil,
Dear senators,
Queridos amigos,

Es un honor estar hoy en Madrid. In this place of history and of the future. The Antiguo Salón de Sesiones del Senado has witnessed the entire parliamentary history of Spain. From the Spanish constitution of 1812, to the deliberations of the first Spanish representatives, to Spanish monarchs fulfilling their constitutional tasks. Along the years, senators have been participating in parliamentary democracy on these very seats. Making the lives of Spanish citizens a little bit better, a little bit fairer and a little bit safer. That is the same ethos that I want to see in the European Union as a whole.

Better. Fairer. Safer.

These are the messages I bring with me today on Holocaust Remembrance Day. It has been 78 years since the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp was liberated. The Nazi regime murdered millions of men, women and children and inflicted unimaginable suffering and pain on millions more.

Today - and every day - we remember the greatest crime in humanity that saw people massacred simply because they were Jewish. Targeted because of their ethnicity, race, disability. Murdered because they were black or because they were gay.

The Holocaust did not happen overnight. The path that led to Auschwitz and the Holocaust began early - with scapegoating, bullying and dehumanisation. It was a process that began generations before - the Jews were seen as “the other”.

In the start of the 1930s, Jews were forbidden to sit on park benches. Then they were forbidden from forming part of state or military services. Jewish students were forbidden from sitting for certain exams. Then inter-religious marriages were  forbidden. Jews had to abide by a curfew. They were forbidden from leaving the country.

And as Rabbi Jonathan Sacks once said “the truly horrific thing, was the absence of horror of so many”. This was a process that developed with indifference from bystanders. People who turned away.

In his book, Nobel Prize laureate and holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel writes: “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

We must speak out. And I am proud that the European Parliament has never been silent.

Today we are seeing anti-Semitism on the rise. Everyday we still witness attacks on Jews, on synagogues....Places of peace, of God, of Worship, still remain targets. Hate online has found too many places to amplify its voice and extend its reach. Social media companies in particular need to take their responsibilities seriously.

We know that this is a warning sign for humanity. It matters to all of us.

I said it yesterday with the President of the State of Israel, I said it in the Knesset in Jerusalem and I will repeat it here: To be anti-Semitic is to be anti-European.

The European Parliament is committed to breaking the cycle. To combating anti-Semitism. To ensuring that we remember the devastation of history and that the lessons of the past will never be forgotten. We have a duty to remember, even when the voices of the survivors are not able to be heard anymore.

The European Parliament understands its responsibility in doing that. The first female President of our Parliament was Simone Veil - number 7-8-6-5-1 - who survived the horror and the evil of Auschwitz to change the face of Europe. Our commitment is as personal as it is institutional.

That is why we must speak-up.  Why we must take action against discrimination and hate.

When we say ‘Never Again’ we must mean it. Remembrance without resolve is hollow. Awareness without action does not prevent these atrocities from happening again.

I have already emphasised the importance of speaking-up against intolerance and injustice but it warrants repeating. Because while anti-Semitism still exists - while children keep being bullied because of their heritage, while synagogues keep needing security guards for protection, while Jewish graves keep being desecrated and vandalised, while the number of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories keep increasing online - it is clear to me that we haven’t said it enough.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our Union knows that diversity is our strength not our weakness. It is what makes the European Union, despite all our difficulties and imperfections, a super-power of values that we should be proud of.  

A Union that has managed to bring 705 members from 27 Member States around the same parliamentary chamber so that together we can build a better, fairer and safer Europe.

We have done a lot in the past decades. We have come together as a Union and we have transformed the lives of millions of people. We tore down internal barriers and replaced them with common values. We achieved freedom, guaranteed prosperity, and provided opportunity.

Right now, with Europe being at a crossroads, we need to continue building on our biggest asset: people. Speed up investment, protect human rights, provide solutions, stand up for one other, meet citizens’ expectations and deliver on our promises to improve their lives.

Now is the time for Europe to step up and lead, to strengthen its place in the world, to renew its engagement and recapture a sense of optimism. To make sure that our project of hope becomes a reality for everyone.

Thank you.

You can read the President's speech in Spanish here.