Jan. 27 (UPI) -- Ceremonies were held across the world Saturday to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day against the backdrop of continued anti-far right rallies in Germany and pro-Palestinian marches in Italy.
"Today, and every day, we mourn the six million Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust by the Nazis and their collaborators, as well as the Roma, Sinti, political opponents, persons with disabilities, LGBTQI+ individuals, and others persecuted and murdered by the Nazi regime," the U.S. State Department said in a statement issued Saturday.
"The United States stands with Holocaust victims, their families, and their descendants. We remember and we carry forward the legacy of survivors and their families when we apply the lessons of the Holocaust to combat antisemitism and other forms of intolerance."
U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday condemned the global rise of anti-Semitism in a statement issued to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which coincides with the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.
Biden called the Holocaust "one of the darkest chapters in human history."
At the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial site in Oswiecim, Poland, 20 Holocaust survivors laid wreaths and lit candles at the Wall of Death in the yard of Block 11, where German guards slaughtered thousands of Jewish prisoners during World War II.
In Potočari, Bosnia and Herzegovina, a joint Muslim-Jewish commemorative event was held to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Srebrenica Memorial Center, attended by Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović.
She called the occasion "a beacon of hope at a time when divisions often seem insurmountable," adding, "We must remember our duty to act decisively against hate speech, incitement to religious violence and discrimination."
Thousands of Holocaust Remembrance Day observers in Germany also attended scheduled events, while at the same time approximately 100,000 people in the western German city of Dusseldorf took to the streets to protest the country's far-right Alternative for Germany party.
Several smaller rallies were held in around 30 different nearby cities. Flags in Germany were at half-staff to mark the day.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Saturday publicly urged people to stand up to anti-Semitism and racism.
"'Never again' is every day," Scholz said during his weekly video address, in reference to the Holocaust.
In Italy, demonstrators defied police bans on marches during Remembrance Day, gathering in Rome, Milan and elsewhere in support of Palestinian civilians who have been killed in Gaza amid Israel's war on Hamas militants.
"We are not here to say we are against the Jews. We are here to say 'no' to genocide in Gaza," one activist outside Rome's Piazza Vittorio told the Italian ANSA agency Saturday.