January 27 represents the date of the liberation of the Auschwitz Death Camp 66 years ago (1945).
The ceremony at Istanbul reflects a current tumultuous relationship between Turkey and former ally Israel over the Jewish state's treatment of Palestinians.
Turkey has historically released statements that denounced the genocide of Jews, however, the official ceremony that was held today at the Neve Salom synagogue in Istanbul, underscores Turkey’s position as well as visibly and emphatically demonstrates a condemnation of the Holocaust.
The ceremony was attended by people within the local Jewish community as well as the Turkish Foreign Ministry.
The Jewish community had issued the following statement with regard to this first public and official Turkish ceremony; “It is humanity’s obligation to condemn and Holocaust, which aimed to completely destroy a people, to take necessary measures to prevent future genocides and to encourage efforts to educate new generations.”
The most recent physical action taken by Turkey denouncing the Holocaust and remembering the Jews that were killed, occurred in 2005. Current Turkish President, Abdullah Gul, attended a public ceremony held at Auschwitz that marked the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the death (concentration) camp.
This overt action taken by Turkey to pay homage to the victims of the Holocaust is anticipated by many Armenians to be an indication of future action that Turkey might take in recognition of the Armenian Genocide, also known as the Armenian Holocaust or Armenian Massacres that occurred in 1915.
During that time, the Ottoman Empire deliberately and systematically exterminated (killed) an estimated one and a half million Armenians, destroying an entire people. The Armenian Holocaust is considered to have been one of the first modern genocides.
The successor to the Ottoman Empire is the Republic of Turkey. Historically, it has denied the use of the term genocide to describe the events of 1915. In recent years, Turkey has received repeated calls to accept the events as genocide. To date, 20 countries have already officially recognized the events as genocide.
Armenians view today’s official ceremony by Turkey of the Jewish Holocaust as an indication that Turkey may be nearing an official recognition of the Armenian Holocaust as well.