Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt
Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism
New York, New York
January 26, 2024
The United Nations General Assembly designated January 27—the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau—as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a time to remember the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and the millions of other victims of Nazi persecution. We are here today to recognize the importance of commemorating this day and to recognize the extraordinary courage of the victims and survivors of the Holocaust.
In that vain, I would like to thank and welcome the extraordinary survivors who are with us here today. Including Edith Tennenbaum Shapiro, her sister Selma Tennenbaum Shapiro, and Christian Pfeil. It is a true privilege to be here you.
The Holocaust stands as a testament to the dangers of prejudice, discrimination, and dehumanization. It serves as a stark reminder of the catastrophic consequences of unchecked hatred.
By preserving the memory of the Holocaust, we ensure that future generations are educated about the atrocities committed against the Jewish people as well as others, including Roma, people with disabilities, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and LGBTQ+ persons, we do so in order to foster empathy and tolerance.
Remembering and understanding the history of the Holocaust is crucial in the battle against antisemitism. The United States has chosen to shine a bright light upon the singular catastrophe that
was the Holocaust by ensuring that young people are educated about what the Nazis did and how they did it. The Never Again Education Act, signed into law with near unanimous bipartisan support, is a bulwark against the growing Holocaust denial and distortion. Together with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the State Department has facilitated a variety of exchanges with Holocaust educators on curriculum development and teaching.
Through remembrance, we honor the millions of Jews and others who suffered and perished, reinforcing the commitment to building a world where tolerance, diversity, and respect prevail over bigotry and hatred.
Since the October 7th terrorist attacks on Israel by Hamas and its allies, a tidal wave of antisemitism – including Holocaust distortion –has swept across the globe. Manipulating Holocaust history or misappropriating Holocaust terms disrespects the immense suffering of the victims and survivors of the Holocaust.
Recent history demonstrates how Holocaust denial and distortion and other forms of antisemitism are linked with other forms of intolerance, hate crimes, and efforts to undermine democracy. Hatred directed at any one marginalized group fosters social division, breeds distrust, spreads to other minority groups, and ultimately poses a threat to national security and stability for all people.
The Holocaust provides a historical lens through which individuals, civil society, and governments can recognize warning signs and take early action.
To that end, last year, the Biden-Harris Administration released the first-ever United States National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism. President Biden did this because speaking out with moral clarity and confronting hatred and bigotry, although a critical obligation of leaders, is not sufficient. The United States National Strategy is a whole-of-government approach to combating antisemitism; it is a comprehensive framework we believe can also be a model for other countries and the United Nations as a whole.
In honoring the memory of Holocaust victims, we also re-commit to building a more compassionate and inclusive world, allowing the lessons of the past to steer us toward a future free from the shackles of hate.
Victims and survivors of the Holocaust endured unimaginable horrors. We, in turn, must do all we can to remember the Holocaust, acknowledge what the Jewish people and other victims endured, and work together to ensure that such horrors are never repeated. “Never again,” that is our collective obligation, today and every day.
Thank you very much.