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Joint Statement by President von der Leyen, President Michel, President Sassoli ahead of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau

Statement, 23 January 2020;



“To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.” ― Elie Wiesel, Night

Seventy-five years ago, Allied Forces liberated the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. They ended the most abhorrent crime in European history, the planned annihilation of the Jews in Europe. Six million Jewish children, women and men were murdered as well as millions of innocent people among them hundreds of thousands of Roma, persecuted due to their ethnicity. The price was unspeakably high, but there could hardly be a more symbolic and greater triumph over the Nazis than to commemorate this victory in Israel.

Revisionism and lack of education are threatening the common understanding of the uniqueness of the Shoah that is necessary to translate “Never Again” into concrete action now. By joining today's meeting of Heads of State and Government in Jerusalem, we add our voices to those who are determined to not let extremists and populists go unchallenged when they are trying to cross boundaries and question – once again – human dignity and equality of all human beings.

The Holocaust was a European tragedy, it was a turning point in our history and its legacy is woven into the DNA of the European Union. Remembering the Shoah is not an end in itself. It is one cornerstone of European values. A Europe that places humanity at its centre, protected by the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights.

We are at a crossroads. As the numbers of survivors is dwindling, we will have to find new ways to remember, embracing the testimonies of the descendants of survivors. They remind us to be vigilant about the rising tide of antisemitism that is threatening the values we hold dear — pluralism, diversity, and the freedoms of religion and expression. Values that cherish minorities: all minorities, and always. Jewish communities have contributed to shaping the European identity and will always be part of it.All parts of our society, new and old, must embrace these lessons from the Shoah.

We have a duty to stand shoulder to shoulder with Jewish communities as they feel again threatened across Europe - most recently in Halle, Germany. All EU Member States stand united in the determination that any form of racism, antisemitism and hatred have no place in Europe and we will do whatever it takes to counter them. State authorities, as well as actors from across all sectors of civil society should unite to reaffirm Europe's unfaltering vigilance whenever and wherever democratic values are threatened.

We cannot change history, but the lessons of history can change us.


Ursula von der Leyen

Pres. of the European Commission                       


Charles Michel

Pres. of the European Council                      


David Maria Sassoli

Pres. of the European Parliament

AIC publication: Recruitment into organised criminal groups: A systematic review

The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) has released a paper that synthesises the results of a systematic review of the social, psychological and economic factors leading to recruitment into organised crime.

  • This study examines the international evidence from 47 qualitative, quantitative and mixed-method studies published in or before 2017.
  • The review demonstrates that while the available evidence on the various factors leading to individuals’ recruitment is scarce, there has been growth in the number of rigorous studies in recent years.
  • The most commonly studied factors relating to the recruitment of organised crime members are social relations and criminal backgrounds or expertise.
  • Familial, friendship and professional ties may build a foundation of trust in potential recruits and propagate recruitment opportunities. Recruits also need to demonstrate competence in carrying out specific criminal activities, avoiding police detection, and maintaining group secrecy.
  • Other factors examined in the studies include economic conditions, demographic characteristics, employment, education, and psychological factors.
  • Areas for policy development are identified, such as targeting the extended social networks of organised crime members.

This research was commissioned by the AIC’s Serious and Organised Crime Research Laboratory and undertaken by researchers at Transcrime and the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan. The study will assist in better understanding the social and organisational characteristics of criminal organisations and help inform the development of preventive programs to reduce recruitment into organised criminal groups.

The paper is available for free download on the AIC website: