Holocaust remembrance fading

Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate, the late Elie Wiesel, once said of that horrific state-sponsored genocide that, “to forget the victims means to kill them a second time. So I couldn’t prevent the first death. I surely must be capable of saving them from a second death.” The world-renowned author sought to prevent victims from being forgotten through writing many books on the persecution through his experience and by helping establish the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
Wiesel’s words underscore the gravity of the duty we all have as humankind to never forget the horrors of the Holocaust. We take for granted that for most people, the names “Auschwitz” or “Treblinka” evoke those terrible memorials and attest to the brutal methods used by the Nazis to attempt to exterminate the Jewish people during World War II. In Auschwitz alone, Nazis ended the lives of more than one million people, contributing to the astounding 6 million Jewish men, women, and children who were murdered. It is difficult to comprehend the scale of such loss, as well as the capability of humankind to inflict such suffering.
With Wiesel’s words in mind, we should all be troubled by the results of a study released on April 12th, Holocaust Remembrance Day, which found that an alarming two-thirds of Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 years old cannot even explain the significance of Auschwitz. The fading understanding of the significance of the Holocaust in the younger generation is a warning sign for the world’s future. Listening to the stories of Holocaust survivors creates awareness and solidifies the commitment to stop this terror from ever happening again.
To all of us, that fading memory is a clear sign that it is vital to educate our younger generations of the actions of the Nazi regime. As the years pass, fewer and fewer survivors are with us to tell their stories, and as long as people forget the past, the threat of genocide remains.
Without intervention, the Nazis may have succeeded in their goal of wiping out an entire people. We cannot let this happen again, and I am proud to cosponsor the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act to strengthen the United States’ ability to prevent and respond to genocide, war crimes, and other crimes against humanity. The legislation states that it is U.S. policy to regard the prevention of atrocity crimes as a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility.
On April 18, Israel began celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut, or Israeli Independence Day, to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the modern state of Israel, a constant U.S. ally. Israel is a nation that offers a home and safe haven for Jews around the world.
Wiesel said, “Because I remember, I despair. Because I remember, I have the duty to reject despair.” As we honor and remember the victims of the Holocaust, let this be a reminder that we reject despair by taking our responsibility to educate younger generations. May we never forget the horror of the Holocaust and the suffering of the Jewish people. We remember so that it may never happen again.
 

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