Ankara University in the Turkish capital hosted members of Turkey's Jewish community Thursday to mark the upcoming Holocaust Remembrance Day and to remember Holocaust survivors who took positions at the university decades ago.
In an early event ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan. 27, the university hosted representatives of the Jewish community, including Chief Rabbi İsak Haleva and community leader İshak İbrahimzadeh. Ahead of the event, the Jewish community held a religious service in an Ankara synagogue to remember Holocaust victims.
The event opened with the screening of a documentary on Lima Amato, a Holocaust survivor who was among 43 Jews rescued from the Holocaust by Selahattin Ülkümen, Turkey's consul general in Greece's Rhodes Island during World War II. Ülkümen had issued Jews on the island Turkish passports to save them from forced deportation to Auschwitz.
Addressing the commemoration ceremony, Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Faruk Kaymakçı said they respectfully remembered millions of Holocaust victims and expressed concerns that anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia are still on the rise in the world. "Discrimination, including anti-Semitism, is a crime under Turkish laws since the Holocaust is a tragic example of what making ethnic and religious identities a target of hatred leads to," he said.
Speaking at the event, İshak İbrahimzadeh said the Holocaust can still "be sensed" in today's world in different ways. "All the suffering is sacred, and we believe discrimination and hate crimes can only be overcome through love and education," he said.
Turkey, home to a sizable Jewish community concentrated in Istanbul, joined the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, an intergovernmental body established in 1998 to coordinate political and social support for Holocaust education, remembrance and research as well as to combat anti-Semitism and has regularly marked Holocaust Remembrance Day since then.
Ankara University has a history of employing Jewish scientists and academics that fled persecution in Nazi Germany. In the 1930s, Turkey received more than 130 such academics. Albert Eckstein, a prominent professor, founded the Department of Pediatric Medicine at Ankara University. Ernst Reuter, another academic employed by the university, helped found the Urban Development Institute, while Friedrich Falke served as president of the Faculty of Agricultural Engineering.