Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee
Holocaust Memorial Day

Honourable senators, today, May 1, marks Holocaust Memorial Day, commemorating the wilful, diabolically planned and systematically planned extermination in a most unimaginably brutal way of an entire people — the Jewish people — before and during the Second World War. This extermination was not a by-product of a civil war or an insurrection. It was a planned, intended hate-motivated campaign against Jews solely because they were Jews.

I lost nine cousins, a number of aunts and uncles and a grandmother in the Holocaust. I went to Ukraine some years ago and discovered that my relatives had been killed there together with thousands of others in the small village of Mincovici in Kamenetz-Podolsk. They were killed in one of two ways. The first way was for the Nazi soldiers to play a game to see how many people they could kill with one bullet. They lined up people carefully to make sure that the bullet would pass through a number of bodies. The winner of this diabolical game was then able to determine the second way that the thousands of others were to be killed. The determination was that they would be put into a cave not too far away. Boulders would be rolled to the mouth of the cave to block the exit. They would then explode grenades and TNT in the cave and at the entrance to suck out the oxygen. Those who were not asphyxiated would die of starvation.

I give honourable senators this terrible description because I saw the cave, I saw what happened and I understand what happened.

We were supposed to have learned a lesson about this campaign. We were supposed to remember. We are not remembering. We have witnessed the Rwandan extermination. Aside from heroes like our honourable colleague, Senator Dallaire, we did virtually nothing about it. Currently, we are witnessing the Darfur genocide and extermination, and we are doing nothing about it. We owe the obligation to pay homage to all these innocents — the Jews, the Rwandans and the people of Darfur. The only way we can do that is by having our voices heard — joining with NGOs, joining with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Prevention of Genocide and Other Crimes Against Humanity and playing our role in those organizations. I respectfully urge each of us to make that statement and to do that.