Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu visited Auschwitz on Thursday, saying one of
the key lessons the Jews took from the Holocaust was not to expect “others to do
the work for us.”
“The leaders of the Allies knew about the Holocaust in
real time,” Netanyahu said at the opening of a permanent exhibit called “Shoah”
in Block 27 at the Auschwitz- Birkenau State Museum.
exactly what was happening in the death camps. They were asked to act, they
could have acted, and they did not.
“To us Jews the lesson is clear: We
must not be complacent in the face of threats of annihilation. We must not bury
our heads in the sand or allow others to do the work for us. We will never be
Netanyahu, who in the past has drawn parallels between
Iran’s nuclear march and call for the destruction of Israel, and the Nazi
intention to wipe out the Jews, said, “Even today we hear threats of the
destruction of the Jewish people, and the world behaves as usual.
here, Auschwitz- Birkenau, the place that attests to the desire to destroy our
people, I – the prime minister of Israel, the state of the Jewish people – say
to all the nations of the world: The State of Israel will do whatever is
necessary to prevent another Holocaust. Even today there is someone who declares
his intention to destroy millions of Jews and wipe their state off the
Netanyahu said the difference between then and now was that today,
“we have an independent state and a strong army, which allows us to protect our
people and to stop this criminal intent.”
He disputed the notion that the
world’s attitude toward the Jews has changed since the Holocaust.
has really changed?” he asked. “The hatred of Jews changes form, but it remains
– if not [based on] racial superiority, then [on] religious
superiority. And the world’s apathy toward this hatred remains the
Netanyahu said the world has swiftly become accustomed again to
those declaring that they want to destroy millions of Jews. Likewise, he said,
“the indecision of the enlightened countries regarding whether to act against
extreme regimes that threaten us and the peace of the world is also something
that has not changed.”
The only thing that has changed, he continued, “is
our ability and determination to act to defend ourselves and prevent another
The prime minister’s visit to the site came on the final day
of his two-day visit to Poland. On Wednesday, he, along with five other cabinet
ministers, met their Polish counterparts in the second government-to-government
meeting between the two countries. The delegation returned to Israel on Thursday
The exhibition that Netanyahu opened was designed and built by Yad
Vashem, in coordination with the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. According to
Yad Vashem, the previous exhibition, dating back to the communist era, was
outdated both in content and in display methods, and most visitors to the site
Following prime minister Ariel Sharon’s visit there in 2005
as part of the March of the Living, the government charged Yad Vashem with
renovating the exhibition.
Funding for the NIS 30 million project came
from both the government and the Claims Conference.
1,000-square-meter exhibition in the two-floor block consists of several spaces,
each dedicated to an element of the Holocaust, including one devoted to the 1.5
million Jewish children who were killed. The exhibition also includes a 2- meter
high Book of Names that lists the names, compiled by Yad Vashem, of 4.2 million
Jews murdered by the Nazis. The book includes empty pages at the end, leaving
room for additional names as Yad Vashem continues collecting the names of
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