On 6 March we celebrate the European Day of the Righteous – a day to commemorate all those who stood up against totalitarianisms and crimes against humanity, who fought for life and dignity of other people.
The term "righteous" was first used by Yad Vashem Institute to describe those who risked their lives helping Jews during the Holocaust. Later the meaning of this term was broadened and the European Day of the Righteous, established by the European Parliament in 2012, aims to commemorate all those who had the courage to defend human dignity, help the victims or fight for the truth when facing totalitarian regimes or crimes against humanity.
It is a day to commemorate those who opposed the Armenian genocide or the crimes of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, those who helped the victims of wars in Rwanda, those who fought against the ethnic cleansing in former Yugoslavia or those who spoke openly about Gulag and of course those who rescued Jews during World War II.
The date – 6 March – was chosen as it is the day of death of Moshe Bejski, who was co-author of the term “Righteous among the Nations” and who initiated the first and most famous Garden of the Righteous in Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem. About two thousand trees were planted there in memory of those who rescued Jews during the Holocaust.
Such gardens for the righteous (in a broader understanding of this term) have been recently created in several places, including Milan (Italy), Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and in Yerevan (Armenia), and since 2014 – Warsaw (Poland).
For details of this year’s commemorations on 6 March, please visit the official website of the European Day of the Righteous.