Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
February 9, 2023
Thank you, and thank all of you for being here. I’m amazed at how many of you are out here tonight. This says to all of us how important this issue is.
Undersecretary Fleming, thank you for bringing us together for this sobering screening and important discussion.
Ken, Lynn, Daniel – it is an honor to have you here. The film you have put together is one of enormous consequence. It’s one that gives voice to the stories of survivors. One that uncovers a painful legacy of inaction and intolerance. And one that will be an enduring record of one of humanity’s darkest chapters.
Near the end of this film, Rabbi David Max Eichhort, a U.S. Army Chaplain, leads a service at the newly liberated Dachau concentration camp. Those gathered are former prisoners, solemn and emaciated. Many are still wearing striped prison uniforms as they lift their voices in prayer. Eichhort tells the congregants, “We are proud – very proud – to be here, to know that we have had a share in the destruction of the most cruel tyranny of all time.”
Many Americans, including myself, grew up learning this straightforward narrative. A narrative in which Americans and their leaders, at first ignorant of events unfolding in Europe, are eventually drawn into battle to defeat extremism and evil. But “America and the Holocaust” complicates this narrative by shining a light on pieces of history of which Captain Eichhort, and many of us, were unaware.
As Ken, Lynn, and Daniel and their team of experts illustrate, America’s leaders knew more and did less to end the horrors – to end the horrors unfolding in Europe – than we like to acknowledge. This is the uncomfortable reality we must grapple with – not just through reflection, but through action.
And the United States, especially this administration, has committed to such actions. To remedying the wrongs of our past.
Our record has never been perfect, but I am proud of our efforts to prevent mass atrocities. To advance universal human rights and democracy. To meet the needs of the most vulnerable as the largest single donor of humanitarian assistance worldwide. To welcome refugees, stateless persons, and others forced to flee their homes – including through our newly created Welcome Corps program. And to speak out against antisemitism – at home and around the world.
Just today, Second Gentleman Emhoff and I partnered with a cross-regional group of countries on a UN side event to discuss ways to stop the deeply troubling spike in antisemitism.
My team is seized by all of this work here at the United Nations – an institution founded in the aftermath of World War II to end the scourge of war and turn the promise of “Never Again” into fact.
Today, let us recommit to the UN’s founding vision, to the UN’s founding principle.
And let us remember that history will not only judge us by what we do – but also by what we fail to do, by the actions we do not take to save lives.
Ken, Lynn, and Daniel – thank you. Thank you for bringing this powerful story, this powerful message to the UN and to the world.
Thank you. [Applause.]