Several events commemorating International Holocaust Remembrance Day took place in Estonia on Wednesday.
One commemoration event was held at the memorial stone for French Jews deported to Estonia in 1944, known as deportees of Convoy 73 in Tallinn's Lasnamäe.
"Holocaust was the genocide of six million Jews," said the chairperson of the Estonian Jewish Community, Alla Jakobson. "The mass murders did not take place in a vacuum. It was a result of uncontrolled and brutal hatred and the indifference of millions of onlookers," Jakobson said, adding that it is our duty to collect and preserve the memories of Holocaust survivors and respect the victims.
"Learning from this tragic event in history, we can build up a better future," she said.
In 1944, about 300 Jews from France were deported to eastern Europe, where the convoy of train cars carrying them eventually reached Tallinn. While a couple of tens of the deportees were sent to a camp in Lasnamae to restore the airstrip of a military airfield destroyed by bombings, the biggest proportion of the deportees of Convoy 73 were killed in prison.
"We must remember the Holocaust not as an abstract tragedy of one nation, but must know the specific episodes of this tragedy which affected the residents of our city, of our country. January 27 reminds us what hatred and intolerance bring with them," the elder of the city district of Lasnamäe Vladimir Svet (Center) said.
The ceremony was attended by French Ambassador Eric Lamouroux, chair of the Estonian Jewish Community Alla Jakobson, member of the council of the Estonian Jewish Community Aavi Dobros, member of the city council of Tallinn Aleksandr Zdankevits and officials of the city district administration, including head of the administration Vladimir Svet.
The participants laid a wreath to the memorial stone and observed a minute of silence to pay tribute to the memory of those who tragically perished.
The memorial stone to the French Jews deported to Tallinn was unveiled at the corner of Narva Road and Lavamaa Street in Lasnamäe, a location in the former northern portion of the airfield at which deportees Convoy 73 were forced to work, in 2014.
A former ghetto inmate and Holocaust survivor, Aleksei Brener, currently is a resident of Lasnamäe. Brener was 11 years old and lived in Ukraine when World War II broke out. His family perished in the Holocaust, but the youngster survived through a miracle. He moved to Tallinn to live with a distant relative after briefly living in Moldova after the war.
Estonian politicians also marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
President Kersti Kaljulaid posted a photo of herself holding a sign saying "We Remember", the social media hashtag which is used to mark the day.
As did former Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center).
We must do everything we can to ensure that acts against humanity never happen again️— Jüri Ratas (@ratasjuri) January 27, 2021
Peame tegema kõik endast oleneva, et inimkonna vastased teod enam iial ei korduks️#InternationalHolocaustRemembranceDay pic.twitter.com/v4xbGstYk5
A national commemoration ceremony was also held at the Rahumäe Jewish Cemetery in Tallinn's Nõmme District to mark the 76th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.
"Holocaust is a tragic chapter in the world's and Estonia's history that must be commemorated. It is necessary to remember in order to avoid something similar happening ever gain," said Liina Kersna (Reform), the Minister of Education and Research at the commemoration ceremony. "Nothing justifies crimes against humanity and we must never forget them."
Editor: Helen Wright