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The BBC's Jon Silverman
"It's clear that some of the lessons of the past have still to be learned"
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The BBC's Barnaby Mason
"Some Jewish groups have complained about attempts to write a line under the history of the Holocaust"
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Friday, 18 February, 2000, 10:01 GMT
World alert for rise of far right

Auschwitz Millions died at Auschwitz

The international Holocaust forum in Sweden has heard repeated calls not to forget the crimes of the Nazi era - nor to be complacent about the threat of the far-right.

The Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak said the conference sent out a universal message - that never again should a regime of evil, murder and discrimination on the basis of religion, race or colour be tolerated.

We are plagued by despicable Holocaust deniers, neo-Nazis, racist groups and ultra right-wing political parties. Can we afford to be complacent?
Ehud Barak, Prime Minister of Israel
"Although I have forgiven, I have sworn an oath to forget nothing and remember everything," Mr Barak said, opening his address in the Swedish capital in Hebrew, recalling a poem called The Vow.

The three-day conference - attended by more than 20 heads of state and government - aims to focus attention on the legacy of the genocidal onslaught on European Jewry by the Nazi regime in Germany nearly 60 years ago.

German Chancellor Schroeder urged better international cooperation in the fight against racism and neo-Nazism.

Anti-democratic forces

Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson, opening the conference, said people must learn from Nazi crimes and keep anti-democratic forces in check.

To forget would be to betray those who died and those who survived. It happened once, it must not happen again, but it could
Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson
"Anti-democratic forces continue to gain our support. The danger lies in our failure to learn from history, our failure to see the connection," Mr Persson said.

His decision to call the conference followed research findings that 10% of Swedish schoolchildren did not know about the Holocaust.

The forum coincides with the trial of three Swedish neo-Nazis for the dissemination and selling of extreme-right propaganda.

And in London, controversial British historian David Irving was telling a libel trial in London that Auschwitz's gas chambers were a fiction.

A living issue

In what BBC diplomatic correspondent Barnaby Mason describes as an illustration of how the shadows of the Nazi era can still fall across the present day, an Israeli minister attending the conference attacked Joerg Haider, the leader of Austria's far right Freedom Party.

The liberation of Auschwitz is to be officially remembered in Britain
Mr Haider has in the past been complimentary about the Nazis. He and his party are being considered for inclusion in an Austrian coalition government.

Michael Melchior, the Israeli minister responsible for combating anti-Semitism, said it was intolerable that men of Mr Haider's kind should become part of the government of any decent country.

"This man and his teachings are insults to decency and democracy. They are an insult to the essence of the message of what we are gathered here in Stockholm to talk about," Mr Melchior said.
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