Today, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, those of us who, in Primo Levi’s beautiful words, now live “safe [i]n . . . warm houses,”(1) are called to commemorate and reflect upon that great tragedy whose abatement began exactly 75 years ago today.
As Levi observed, “we are often asked … whether Auschwitz will return: whether … other slaughters will take place, unilateral, systematic, mechanized, willed, at a governmental level, perpetrated upon innocent and defenseless populations and legitimized by the doctrine of contempt.” The answer Levi offered in 1986, remains true today: “These factors can occur again and are already recurring in various parts of the world.”
So on this 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, that temple of inhumanity and murder, let us recommit ourselves to permanent vigilance against the doctrines of deranged hate and acts of violence perpetrated by the strongest against the weakest.
As many of you know, my grandparents were Holocaust survivors who came to America as refugees seeking safety, equality, and a fair opportunity to pursue the American Dream. Their story of bravery, hope, and perseverance inspires everything that I do. And in the face of the recent, troubling omens of anti-Semitic and other hate that we’ve seen, their example continues to affirm my commitment to bringing more light and warmth into the world.
Wherever we see deranged doctrines of hate weaponized — whether in chemical attacks in Syria; internment of a million or more Uyghurs in China; or violent acts of domestic terrorism perpetrated against the Jewish community in Monsey, Brooklyn, New Jersey, and elsewhere — we must honor the memory of the Holocaust and its victims by standing up to that hate and working to repair this broken world.
Thank you for joining me on this journey,