A German survivor of the Holocaust Wednesday urged lawmakers during a special session of the German Parliament to “take care of our country.”
Charlotte Knobloch, 88, told lawmakers that the lives of Jews in Germany are still far from normal, nearly eight decades after Nazis murdered 6 million European Jews in the Shoah — another name for the Holocaust.
Knobloch also warned of democracy's fragility and asked lawmakers to protect the achievements of the last decades for Jews and non-Jews and defend Germany against extremists. She said right-wing extremism is the greatest threat of all.
The session was held to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day, 76 years after the Soviet army liberated the Auschwitz death camp in occupied Poland.
At one point in her speech, Knobloch addressed members of the hard-right Alternative for Germany political party, Parliament’s largest opposition group with nearly 100 seats. She accused many of the group’s members of "picking up the tradition" of the Nazis.
"I tell you — you lost your fight 76 years ago," Knobloch said. "You will continue to fight for your Germany, and we will keep fighting for our Germany."
Knobloch is the former leader of Germany's 200,000-strong Jewish community that survived the Holocaust.
Also attending the session was Marina Weisband, a Jewish immigrant from Ukraine who also warned about resurging anti-Semitism in Germany.
In the presence of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and other officials, Rabbi Shaul Nekrich wrote the last 12 letters of the Sulzbacher Torah Scroll, one of Germany's oldest torah scrolls.
Since 1996, Germany has officially marked Holocaust Remembrance Day every January 27 with a solemn ceremony at the Bundestag, featuring a speech by a survivor and commemorations across the country.