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Holocaust Remembrance Day

Location: Washington, DC

HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY -- (House of Representatives - May 05, 2005)


Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The Chief U.S. Counsel to the Nuremberg Military tribunal said of the Holocaust: "The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant, and so devastating, that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated."

Today, Jews around the world take a moment to pay tribute to the heroes that were lost. In Israel, where they refer to the day as Yom Hashoah, the ceremony began yesterday with survivors and their families gathering together for a memorial ceremony at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. During the ceremony, six torches were lit, representing the six million murdered Jews, and wreathes were laid.

Today's ceremony in Israel began with the sounding of a siren for two minutes throughout the entire country. For the duration of the sirens, work was halted, people walking in the streets stopped, cars pulled off to the side of the road and everyone stood at silent attention.

Mr. Speaker, genocide is a horror that has touched many cultures and religions. Just a few weeks ago, I joined several thousand Armenians in Times Square for a commemoration of the 90th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. The date marks the beginning of a genocide that took the lives of more than one million Armenians in three years during World War I.

Even Hitler exploited the Armenian Genocide to justify his atrocities against the Jews, asking "Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?" just before Germany's invasion of Poland. Today, the Armenians are still fighting for recognition of the genocide from the Turkish government.

But Mr. Speaker, despite our attempts to shed light on the horrors of the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide, the sad truth is that genocide is not a crime of the past.

Since February 2003, the Sudanese Government has used a combination of Arab "Janjaweed" militias, its air force, and organized starvation to kill more than 380,000 Darfurians and displace almost 3 million. Estimates suggest that the Sudanese continue to kill at least 15,000 more Darfurians each month.

The Sudanese government, like the Turkish government, denies any evidence of genocide. Even the United States government seems to be unwilling to label the crisis as "genocide."

Mr. Speaker, we as Americans have a moral obligation to stop genocide wherever and whenever it occurs. Americans can never again show the same lack of interest that F.D.R. showed toward the genocide of the Jews during World War II. No world leaders should ever be able to stand and justify their crimes by asking if anyone remembers the annihilation of Darfur?

Today, we commemorate one of the darkest periods in human history in the hopes that it will never be repeated. Future generations-not just Jews, but all people-must learn the history of the Holocaust so that the lives that were taken were not lost in vain.


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