President Donald Trump, near an Israeli flag at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump issued a statement commemorating International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Friday, avoiding a controversy he faced last year by explicitly referencing the six million Jews who were systematically murdered by Nazi Germany.
“We take this opportunity to recall the Nazis’ systematic persecution and brutal murder of six million Jewish people,” the president said. “In their death camps and under their inhuman rule, the Nazis also enslaved and killed millions of Slavs, Roma, gays, people with disabilities, priests and religious leaders, and others who courageously opposed their brutal regime.”
Trump endured criticism last year for failing to mention Jews in his statement marking the day of remembrance. At the time, his press secretary said the statement did not specifically mention Jewish victims because other people had been killed, as well.
This year, the president said that Holocaust survivors “give us the strength to combat intolerance, including antisemitism and all other forms of bigotry and discrimination.”
“Every generation must learn and apply the lessons of the Holocaust to prevent new horrors against humanity from occurring,” he said. “As I have said: ‘We will stamp out prejudice. We will condemn hatred. We will bear witness, and we will act.’” “In this spirit, we must join together across our nations and with people of goodwill around the world to eliminate prejudice and promote more just societies,” he continued. “We must remain vigilant to protect the fundamental rights and inherent dignity of every human being.”
Remaining behind as the president traveled to Davos, Switzerland, first lady Melania Trump visited the US Holocaust Museum for a private tour.
At a wreath laying ceremony at the Warsaw Ghetto Heroes Monument in Poland on Saturday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson honored Shoah victims as well.
“Auschwitz-Birkenau was a place of unimaginable horror and tragedy..., but we must remember what happened there and in similar camps under the Nazi reign of terror,” Tillerson said. “On this occasion, it reminds us that we can never – we can never – be indifferent to the face of evil.”
“The Western alliance which emerged from World War II has committed itself to ensuring the security of all – that this would never happen again,” the secretary continued. “One of Poland’s greatest sons, Pope John Paul II, understood the face of evil when he said, ‘No one is permitted to pass by the tragedy of Shoah.’”