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Statement of Congressman Richard Neal on Holocaust Remembrance Day

April 12, 2018
Press Release

(WASHINGTON) Congressman Richard E. Neal released the following statement today in recognition of Holocaust Remembrance Day which is being observed this year on Thursday, April 12.

“Every year, the people of the United States of America take time to remember the 6 million Jewish men, women and children who were systematically persecuted and killed by the Nazi’s during World War II. The annual observance, known as Holocaust Remembrance Day, was established by the U.S. Congress, and is held on the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943, an act of Jewish resistance in Poland against forced deportation to the Nazi concentration camp at Treblinka. In Hebrew, Holocaust Remembrance Day is called Yom Hashoah. During this solemn occasion, let us honor the innocent victims of the Holocaust, teach future generations about the dangers of genocide and anti-Semitism, and pledge to never forget what happened in Europe 80 years ago. As Nobel Prize Winner and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel reminded us, 'To remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all.'”

Last month, I was pleased to sign a bipartisan letter in Congress requesting $5 million of federal assistance for the Holocaust Survivors Assistance Program. This important initiative helps the brave survivors live their golden years in dignity and delivers the assistance and relief they need. There are approximately 100,000 Holocaust survivors living in the United States today, 30,000 live in poverty, and many are over the age of 85. Nearly 3,400 currently reside in Massachusetts. In Israel, there are 200,000 Holocaust survivors and one in four live in poverty. After living through one of the most painful chapters in recent memory, I believe we have a responsibility to support the surviving men and women of the Holocaust and their families. This program, which was created in 2015, provides services which helps prevent hunger, isolation, eviction and trauma. This critical care is a reflection of our basic American values and it is the right thing to do.

Here in western and central Massachusetts, we have several institutions that are committed to informing others about the enormity of the Holocaust. In 2013, the Springfield Museums developed an innovative program called “Us & Them: Discrimination during the Holocaust and Today.” Since it was introduced five years ago, “Us & Them” has been taught nearly 250 times to more than 5,000 students in the Pioneer Valley and Connecticut. The highly successful program gives local youth a perspective of the Holocaust through the lens of survivors who settled in Greater Springfield. In Amherst, the University of Massachusetts is home to the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide and Memory Studies which hosts public lectures, conferences, screenings, classes and permanent displays. It opened in 2011 to host “A Reason to Remember: Roth, Germany 1933-42” a teaching exhibition on the Holocaust donated to UMASS by the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts. Both organizations comprehensively teach the lessons of the Holocaust and remind us of the extraordinary resilience of the Jewish people.

 

As we come together to mourn those lost in the Shoah, I recall the words of Anne Frank who said, “Where there is hope, there is life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again.” On this Day of Remembrance, let’s rededicate ourselves to the elimination of genocide across the globe in a shared effort to prevent the unthinkable from ever happening again.

 

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