Emhoff to fly to Germany, Poland to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day

There are two main areas of focus for Emhoff’s trip: One is on Holocaust education and remembrance, and the second one is on combating antisemitism.

 Grassroots Fundraiser with Vice President Biden, Dr. Biden, Senator Kamala Harris, and Doug Emhoff - Wilmington, DE - August 21, 2020. (photo credit: FLICKR)
Grassroots Fundraiser with Vice President Biden, Dr. Biden, Senator Kamala Harris, and Doug Emhoff - Wilmington, DE - August 21, 2020.
(photo credit: FLICKR)

WASHINGTON – US Second Gentleman, Doug Emhoff, will travel today (Thursday) to Poland and Germany to mark the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. During the five-day trip, he is expected to attend the commemoration of the 78th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz extermination camp and meet with government officials and local Jewish leaders.

A senior administration official said ahead of the trip that there are two main areas of focus for Emhoff’s trip: One is on Holocaust education and remembrance, and the second one is on combating antisemitism worldwide.

“The visit certainly has a special significance, and we are aware of that and the significance for him, for our administration, for American Jews and frankly, Jews around the world,” the senior official said. “It is hard to underestimate the importance of having a second gentleman in this position visiting Auschwitz, along with survivors (…) walking past the crematorium as the first Jewish spouse of a vice president of the United States.”

“You will see the second gentleman push back against Holocaust denial, distortion and disinformation and educate the next generation about the Holocaust,” said the senior official. “The trip is about reflecting on what we know is a dark, difficult history and then renewing our commitment to take action in current times. Throughout engagements, the second gentleman will make clear that US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are firmly committed to countering the rising global antisemitism, and that they are focused on this global antisemitism just as they are at home.”

US to 'deepen' relationship with Europe on Holocaust denial

The official went on to say that Emhoff will “make clear that we are very committed to deepening our relationship with Europe on this matter.”

Kamala Harris and her husband Douglas Emhoff  (credit: REUTERS/CARLOS BARRIA)Kamala Harris and her husband Douglas Emhoff (credit: REUTERS/CARLOS BARRIA)

“Antisemitism cuts across ideology, political groups and nation,” the official continued. “Thus, the efforts combating antisemitism must be comprehensive and interconnected. While antisemitism is of course a threat to Jews, it is also often accompanied by hatred and intolerance directed against members of other ethnic or religious minority groups and other vulnerable populations, and is fundamentally destabilizing to society.”

Speaking about the White House Task Force to combat antisemitism, the official said: “We all see and feel the rising tide of hate and specifically antisemitism that the global community faces and we face here at home (..) Hatred now faces no borders, and we will take in all of government and all vital personnel to combat that.”

Emhoff will land on Thursday in Krakow, Poland. On Friday, he will visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Memorial and Museum and receive a tour before attending the commemoration of the 78th anniversary of the liberation of the extermination camp. He will later attend a Shabbat dinner hosted by the Jewish Community Center.

On Saturday, he will visit Schindler’s Enamel Factory Museum and will participate in a roundtable with community leaders in Krakow on addressing antisemitism. The following day, Emhoff will tour Krakow’s Historic Jewish Quarter and will meet with community leaders and visit historic sites in Gorlice, Poland.

On Monday, Emhoff will participate in a Convening of Special Envoys and Coordinators on Combating Antisemitism for a discussion on combating antisemitism around the world. He will also visit the Museum of Jewish Life before attending a dinner with German community leaders and government officials hosted by Ambassador Amy Gutman.

On his last day in Germany, Emhoff will participate in a roundtable with Jewish, Muslim, and Christian faith leaders on interfaith dialogue and understanding. Later, he will visit Oranienburgerstrasse Synagogue. According to the White House, while there, he will meet with Ukrainian refugees. Before heading back to Washington, he is also expected to Holocaust survivors at the Holocaust Memorial.