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President Obama Issues Statement to Commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day


In honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day, President Obama has issued a statement:

I join people here at home, in Israel, and around the world in commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day and in honoring the memory of all those who suffered, died and lost loved ones in one of the most barbaric acts in human history.

More than six decades after the Holocaust, and at a time when Holocaust denial and genocidal ideologies persist, our grief and our outrage over the Nazis' murder of six million Jews and so many others have not diminished. This year marks both the 65th anniversary of the verdicts at the first Nuremberg trial, a defining moment in international justice, and the 50th anniversary of Adolf Eichmann's trial, where the world heard firsthand testimonies from those who had suffered the horrors of the Holocaust. From this tragedy we see the cost of allowing hatred go unanswered in the world, but from this justice we also see the power of holding the perpetrators of genocide accountable. Remembering these events only reinforces our solemn commitment to confront those who tell lies about our history and to stop the spread of hate in our own time.

We must heed the urgency to listen to and care for the last living survivors, camp liberators and the witnesses to the Shoah. And we must meet our sacred responsibility to honor all those who perished by recalling their courage and dignity in the face of unspeakable atrocities, by insisting that the world never forget them, and by always standing up against intolerance and injustice.

- President Barack Obama, 2 May 2011


The United States of America commemorates the victims of the Holocaust on Yom Hashoah every year, with commemoration events lasting for a week.  This year's Holocaust Remembrance Week was 1-8 May.  United States Congress established the "Days of Remembrance," as it is officially called, as the nation's annual commemoration in 1980 and created the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) as a permanent living memorial to the victims.

Observances and remembrance activities occurred around the country, and the Days of Remembrance were observed by state and local governments, military bases, workplaces, schools, churches, synagogues, and civic centers.  The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum held a Names Reading Ceremony, in which community members were invited to participate in the reading of the 5,000 names of Holocaust victims.  Since 1982, the USHMM has organized and led the national Days of Remembrance ceremony in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, with Holocaust survivors, liberators, members of Congress, White House officials, the diplomatic corps, and community leaders in attendance.   This year's ceremony will occur on 17 May.

The theme designated by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum for the 2011 observance is Justice and Accountability in the Face of Genocide: What Have We Learned? This theme examines the use of justice and rule of law in the post-World War II period.  The USHMM will be marking the 65th anniversary of the verdicts at the first Nuremburg trial and the 50th anniversary of the trial of Adolf Eichmann.  These trials against Holocaust perpetrators set precedents and guided a new understanding of justice as a tool for seeking accountability, providing affirmation to victims, and reflecting society's ideals about truth and justice.