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Commending Countries and Organizations for Marking 60th Anniversary of Liberation of Auschwitz

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Location: Washington, DC


COMMENDING COUNTRIES AND ORGANIZATIONS FOR MARKING 60TH ANNIVERSARY OF LIBERATION OF AUSCHWITZ -- (House of Representatives - January 25, 2005)

Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to yield such time as he may consume to the distinguished gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Smith), and one of the leading crusaders for human rights.

Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, I thank the distinguished chairman for yielding me this time and for his leadership on this resolution. I also want to thank the gentleman from California (Mr. Lantos), who along with his wife is a survivor of the Holocaust. He is to be commended for his clear and unmistakable and nonambiguous condemnation of these horrific occurrences that occurred 60 years ago and before; and for his leadership today in Congress and around the world on behalf of the plight of Jews, who are still subjected to a gross anti-Semitism all over the world.

Mr. Speaker, perhaps no other single word evokes the horrors of the Holocaust as much as the name Auschwitz, the most notorious death camp in the history of humanity. On January 27, the Government of Poland will mark the liberation of that camp by the Soviet Army some 60 years ago. Leaders from across the globe, including our Vice President DICK CHENEY, will rightly and solemnly remember the victims of Auschwitz and the sacrifices of those who fought against Nazism.

This resolution, H. Res. 39, recognizes the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz in German-occupied Poland. We also seek to strengthen the fight against racism, intolerance, bigotry, prejudice, discrimination, and anti-Semitism. The Congress of the United States joins those in Poland and elsewhere who are marking this solemn occasion.

I particularly support, Mr. Speaker, this resolution's call for education about what happened during the Holocaust in general and at Auschwitz in particular. At that single camp, an estimated 1.1 million men, women, and children were slaughtered. All in all, more than 60 percent of the pre-World War II Jewish population perished during the Holocaust. Others drawn into the Nazi machinery of death included Poles, Roman and other nationalities, religious leaders and religious minorities, the mentally or physically handicapped individuals, those who were considered inferior by the Nazis. The lives of countless survivors were forever broken.

When Soviet troops entered Auschwitz, they found hundreds of thousands of men's suits, more than 800,000 women's suits, and more than 14,000 pounds of human hair, a silent and grim testimony to the magnitude of the crimes that had been committed there.

Mr. Speaker, throughout the last several years, the Helsinki Commission, which I chaired during the last 2 years, has tried to focus on this terrible rising tide of anti-Semitism that has been occurring throughout Europe, among the OSCE's 55 countries, and really throughout the world. I am very glad that the Global Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2004, which the gentleman from California (Mr. Lantos), the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Hyde), and I and Senator Voinovich and the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. Cardin) all worked so hard to enact, now has given us its first installment, including a very comprehensive report, which the gentleman from California (Mr. Lantos) just read from, and which I would like to make a part of the RECORD as well.

Members need to read this, Mr. Speaker. Anti-Semitism is on the rise, and it must be countered. A tourniquet must be put on this hate every time it reappears.

Mr. HOYER. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield?

Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. I will be happy to yield to the gentleman from Maryland.

Mr. HOYER. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding. First of all, I want to congratulate him on the extraordinary work he has done in leading the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe on behalf of the Congress and on behalf of the American people known as the Helsinki Commission. The gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Smith) has been a stalwart, steadfast, strong voice on behalf of making sure that we confront anti-Semitism; that we confront prejudice; that we confront hate; that we confront the adverse effects of all of those human emotions, and has been a strong voice within the Parliamentary Assembly of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe dealing with this issue of anti-Semitism.

In fact, the gentleman from New Jersey and the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. Cardin), and others, but primarily the gentleman from New Jersey and the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. Cardin), have been responsible for the seminars that have been held in Europe raising the consciousness of all Europeans, as we need to raise the consciousness of all Americans and all peoples of the world to be aware of the invidious, tragic, horrific consequences of prejudice and hate.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to congratulate the gentleman from New Jersey on his extraordinary leadership. He has been a giant in this effort, and I thank him.

Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, reclaiming my time, I thank the distinguished Democrat whip for his very kind remarks; but note that this has been a very strong bipartisan effort, and he has been very much a part of that Parliamentary Assembly.

When we first began to raise this issue, one of the focuses we brought to bear on the Parliamentary Assembly was the importance of Holocaust education. And I would ask every American when they visit Washington to go down to the Holocaust Museum and walk through that museum. Look at the pictures of the people doing the hail to Hitler, the Hail Hitler salute. Seemingly normal, everyday people who, whether they knew it or not, were buying into this extermination campaign that is the most horrific in all of human history.

We would hope that when the Parliamentary Assembly comes to Washington in July that the 220-plus members of Parliaments from each of the countries will spend at least half a day going through the Holocaust Museum to remember so that the past does not become prologue.

I would also point out to my colleagues that my own sense of Holocaust remembrance and education began when I was a young teenager, and a man who used to visit a store right next to my family's sporting goods store who was a survivor himself. I will never forget when he rolled up his sleeve one day and showed us that tattooed mark, the number. He was one of the lucky ones, like our good friend and colleague, the gentleman from California (Mr. Lantos), who survived this terrible time when hell was in session.

So, again, this is another one of those issues that we all are deeply concerned about. There is no division between Democrat or Republican. And again I want to thank the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Hyde) for his leadership on this as well. It has been extraordinary.

Mr. Speaker, I submit herewith the "Report on Global Anti-Semitism" referred to earlier.

Report on Global Anti-Semitism

July 1, 2003-December 15, 2004, submitted by the Department of State to the Committee on Foreign Relations and the Committee on International Relations in accordance with Section 4 of PL 108-332, December 30, 2004. Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, January 5, 2005.

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