Remembering the Holocaust; We Ignore the Lessons at Our Peril

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 13, 2007 | Go to article overview

Remembering the Holocaust; We Ignore the Lessons at Our Peril


Byline: Warren L. Miller and Tom Lantos, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

In Iran, the Islamic government recently sponsored a conference denying the Holocaust. In Slovakia, a Catholic archbishop has said that the period from 1939 through 1945 when 70,000 Slovakian Jews were sent to death camps was a period of "well-being" for the country. In Ukraine, an American Jewish survivor of the Holocaust restored a Jewish cemetery in the town of his childhood. A local mob put up three huge crosses on the cemetery six years ago and they are still there.

Across the globe, the historical record of the Holocaust the planned genocide of six million European Jews by Nazi Germany during World War II is under attack. Despite mountains of evidence death camps and mass graves, records collected by the Nazis, thousands of interviews with survivors the deniers continue their campaign to erase or to blur history.

Some have stood against this tide Emory University's Deborah Lipstadt famously stood trial for libel against a Holocaust denier and she won. But not everyone must follow this example of courage.

Taking back the memory of the Holocaust is sometimes as simple as preserving a synagogue in a European village. It could also mean putting a memorial in the town square, noting the Jewish community that once lived there. Or it may involve promoting Holocaust education in European nations.

Those kinds of actions are central to the mission of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad, which Congress established to protect the cultural and historical legacy of the thousands of communities that were wiped out by the Holocaust.

The commission is far more than an agency devoted to historical preservation. It is often engaged in diplomacy. Because so much of Europe was held under Communist domination for decades, many nations have never come to grips with their involvement in the Holocaust. Moreover, some of those nations have lionized anti-Communists who also had troubling links to Nazi occupiers.

So the commission, its supporters in the Congress and multiple presidential administrations have pursued a broad diplomatic strategy to help these nations appreciate the Holocaust's special significance, particularly what happened in their own countries. …

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