US CAPITOL (by Project Legacy) — The United Nations General Assembly designated January 27—the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau—as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Gathering in the ornate Kennedy Caucus Room members of the US Senate including Ben Cardin, Bill Hagerty, Tim Kaine, Rick Scott, Mike Braun joined with ambassadors of various countries to observe this annual day of commemoration who along with a diverse roster of communal representation honored the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and millions of other victims of Nazism participating in a roundtable discussion to prevent future genocides.
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“The Hagerty-Kaine legislation would posthumously award a Congressional Gold Medal to 60 diplomats who took heroic actions to save Jews fleeing Nazi Germany, including issuing passports and travel visas and setting up safehouses and getaways to hide Jews from Nazi authorities.
In many instances, these courageous diplomats jeopardized the lives of themselves and their own families, as well as their careers, in order to save others during the Holocaust” said Ezra Friedlander who is coordinating this effort on behalf of Project Legacy.
“As we approach the 80th anniversary of the liberation of the death camps, and what subsequently became known as the Holocaust, we are obligated to teach a new generation of what transpired not that long ago. Honoring a small group of diplomats, who understood the humanitarian urgency of saving lives by issuing visas, is that teaching moment ” said prominent Jewish leader Abe Foxman who is chairing the Forgotten Heroes of the Holocaust Congressional Gold Medal Committee.
“As members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, we are determined to stand against anti-Semitism wherever in the world it rears its head, and to salute those who have done so under enormously trying circumstances. These diplomats were beacons of light during a time of unimaginable darkness in the world and, by their individual acts of hope and bravery, saved so many. As we solemnly remember the Holocaust, let us also shine history’s spotlight on these unsung heroes who refused to turn a blind eye” said Senators Hagerty and Kaine in a joint statement.
“I would like to welcome members of the Diplomatic Corps from the embassies of Latvia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Malawi, Poland, Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria, Bangladesh, Slovak Republic, Uzbekistan, Romania, Argentina, Libya, the Netherlands, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Myanmar’ said Joel Rubin who is a former State Department official and prominent political personality who Emcee-ed the proceedings.
“I believe that in today’s world it may be more important to celebrate goodness and human decency than to just to condemn evil,” said Art Reidel, Co-Chair; Forgotten Heroes of the Holocaust Congressional Gold Medal Committee. “We must teach future generations not only about the evil that man inflicted on man but also the courage and heroism of a small number of decent, moral public servants- diplomats who frequently violated their own countries’ rules in order to save Jews.”
A special message was heard by Muath Alamri CEO of Muslim World League who shared insights regarding the trip to Auschwitz by His Excellency Muhammad bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa who led a delegation of Muslim clergy to Auschwitz.
Paul A. Shapiro director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies presented at the Roundtable accounts of the role of the diplomats in how they went about their daring rescue activities.