Senior faith leaders will take on the alarming rise of anti-Semitism at a memorial event to mark the 80th anniversary of the Wannsee Conference today.
The one-day symposium will take place in the historical Französischer Dom, French Dome, in Berlin and will be followed by an official visit to the Wannsee Museum the next day.
Eighty years ago, in Wannsee, just outside of Berlin, 15 senior Nazi and German government officials came together to plan and coordinate the implementation of the Final Solution to the Jewish Question – the eradication of all the Jews in Europe.
“But the tragedy at Wannsee did not start with the Wannsee Conference in 1942,” symposium organizer, Tomas Sandell of the European Coalition for Israel (ECI), explained. “Without a supportive belief system and deeply rooted anti-Semitic sentiments in the German culture at the time, there could not have been a Holocaust.”
To explore what faith leaders can learn from this tragedy and how they can prevent similar developments from happening today, ECI invited senior church leaders to Berlin for a one-day consultation.
At the symposium, statements will be given by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, Secretary-General of the World Evangelical Alliance Thomas Schirrmacher and Chair of the Pentecostal Commission on Religious Liberty Arto Hämäläinen, among others. Participants will also hear from leading experts on anti-Semitism and senior Jewish leaders, such as the president of the European Conference of Rabbis, Chief Rabbi of Moscow Pinchas Goldschmidt, the associate executive vice-president and general counsel of the World Jewish Congress and others.
“Anti-Semitism cannot be defeated at a one-day symposium, but this event can become a catalyst for greater understanding and determination as well as better coordination and cooperation among global faith leaders to take on the fight against this deadly virus,” Sandell said.
The symposium is a joint venture between the ECI and the Evangelical-Protestant Church of Germany (EKD). The church in Germany has a long history of dealing with the collective guilt of the Holocaust, forgiveness and reconciliation.
"Whilst the deadly threats to Jews in the 1940s were limited to those in Nazi-occupied Europe, today anti-Semitism is raising its ugly head also in the United States", noted Sandell who is seriously concerned about the changing attitudes within the Unites States which he calls "the next battle ground in the combat against anti-Semitism.”
The U.S. will be represented at the symposium by Reverend Johnnie Moore, a former commissioner in the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and a recipient of the prestigious Medal of Valor from the Simon Wiesenthal Center for his advocacy on behalf of persecuted minorities in the Middle East.
“Now is the time for political and religious leaders all around the world to draw a line in the sand to say ´no´ to the dramatic rise in antisemitism around the world, to declare 'not on our watch,'“ said Moore who is also the president of the Congress of Christian Leaders. “Unfortunately, just days ago outside of Dallas, Texas, we were reminded yet again of the tragic necessity of this meeting.”
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.