Expressing concern over the increasingly amplified voice of Holocaust deniers, US President Joe Biden on Wednesday stressed the importance of passing down the lessons of the Nazi-perpetrated genocide to future generations, in a statement marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“We must pass the history of the Holocaust on to our grandchildren and their grandchildren in order to keep real the promise of ‘never again,’ Biden said in the statement released by the White House. “That is how we prevent future genocides. Remembering the victims, heroes, and lessons of the Holocaust is particularly important today as Holocaust deniers and minimizers are growing louder in our public discourse.”
Demonstrating how he himself has worked to pass on the lessons of the Holocaust, Biden recalled taking his children to visit a concentration camp in Germany, adding that he plans to do the same with his grandchildren.
Biden highlighted the 2017 march in Charlottesville, Virginia where “white nationalists and neo-Nazis spewing the same anti-Semitic bile we heard in the 1930s in Europe” and how the harrowing scenes were ultimately what drove him to run for president.
“The Holocaust was no accident of history. It occurred because too many governments cold-bloodedly adopted and implemented hate-fueled laws, policies, and practices to vilify and dehumanize entire groups of people, and too many individuals stood by silently,” the president said.
He stressed the importance of combating the “resurgent tide of anti-Semitism, and other forms of bigotry and intolerance, here at home and around the world.”
Biden also pledged to be a “champion of justice for Holocaust survivors and their heirs.”
Quoting his late friend, Holocaust survivor Tom Lantos, Biden said, “The veneer of civilization is paper-thin. We are its guardians, and we can never rest.”
Unlike his predecessor Donald Trump, whose first statement marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day failed to explicitly mention Jews, Biden highlighted the religious group right off the bat.
“Today, we join together with people from nations around the world to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day by remembering the 6 million Jews, as well as the Roma and Sinti, Slavs, disabled persons, LGBTQ+ individuals, and many others, who were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators during the Shoah,” he said.
New US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also issued a message marking Holocaust Remembrance Day. Blinken is Jewish and is the stepson of a Holocaust survivor.
“My stepfather was just a boy when he lost his entire family to the Nazis. He spent nearly four years in labor and death camps before he managed to escape and was later rescued by American troops,” Blinken said. “The story made a great impression on me. It taught me that evil on a grand scale can and does happen in our world and that we have a responsibility to do everything we can to stop it.”
Holocaust Remembrance Day has deep personal meaning for me, as several close family members escaped persecution in Europe, including my late stepfather, who survived the horrors of the Holocaust. pic.twitter.com/KDrkkCjWhy
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) January 27, 2021