On Tuesday, a delegation of 15 international chiefs of police and sheriffs joined an estimated 10,000 thousand Jewish people and others in a Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at the site of the Birkenau concentration camp in Poland. Addressing a crowd of national leaders, dignitaries, Holocaust survivors and others, the first-ever international law enforcement delegation pledged to fight antisemitism, hatred and bigotry in all its forms.
“We have seen the consequences of what happens when police become pawns of tyrants. That is why we are marching alongside each and everyone of you on this day,” said Paul Goldenberg, a highly decorated former law enforcement and national security professional and Senior Fellow for Transnational Security at the Rutgers University Miller Center for Community Protection and Resilience. “We are all familiar with the words, ‘Never Again.’ We, the police of the free world, say to you today, we will operationalize those words, ‘Never Again.’”
The day began with a solemn 2-mile march between the death camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau as part of Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day. The annual march is sponsored by the March of the Living, an organization committed to educating the world about the Holocaust and honoring the memories of the six million Jews and others who perished at the hands of Nazis and their collaborators.
“This is Ground Zero for what can happen if society allows hatred and bigotry to fester, and police are part of the social fabric and infrastructure of democracy,” Goldenberg said. “We are standing here as representatives of the world’s police to pledge to do everything in our power, hearts and souls to ensure that we are proactive in the fight against hate and bigotry.”
Led by 40 Holocaust survivors from countries around the world, the march included Italian President Sergio Matarella, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Israeli Minister of Education Yoav Kisch, philanthropists, interfaith religious leaders and students.
Speakers noted that hate crimes, particularly antisemitic crimes, are on the rise online and throughout Europe and the United States. The Anti-Defamation League reported a 36 percent increase in antisemitic incidents in 2022, the highest level recorded since 1979.
“We are not in a great place and we need to ensure that police have a strong role in understanding how to investigate hate crimes and the impact of those hate crimes on society,” Goldenberg said. “Holocaust commemoration is not just for those who have experienced the horrors but for all of us who are committed to protecting our democracy for ever more.”