Today, 70 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, it’s significant to note that Holocaust remembrance has become more relevant than ever before. It has become more than a symbolic gesture, more than a day of observance or a community commemoration.
It has become a universal, educational, interdisciplinary, conscience-provoking, morally challenging imperative to remember.
As the world faces the insidious and growing threats to our democratic values and institutions, increasing ethnic violence, radicalized terrorism, rising anti-Semitism and continuing ongoing genocides, we cannot be silent, nor can we be bystanders. We have seen all too well that racial hatred, complacency and complicity are still in evidence in all societies today.
That is why our survivors continue to raise an alarm. The symbols of evil, which they had hoped were destroyed with the ideas that developed them, are being seen and used once again. The swastika appears with increasing frequency on public or religious buildings. Our youth are being targeted, recruited to join white supremacy and terrorist groups, even though those so-called ideals nullify and distort everything that our Constitution and Bill of Rights represent.
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Survivors continue to implore and beseech us to teach the Holocaust, not repeat it, and find within our diversity our common humanity, decency and dignity.
Our survivors’ mantra that promises “Never again” after the Holocaust will be empty and meaningless if we stand idly by and remain silent. The survivors kept their promise to stand up and speak out, and we must promise to do no less. As we observe Yom Hashoah, we know that we cannot change what was, but we can change what will be, because we’ve learned what we do and what we don’t do matters.
As the generation of our beloved survivors age and their legacy continues to be denied and distorted, a home for their memories and their stories is both timely and crucial.
For 35 years, the Holocaust Documentation & Education Center of South Florida every day has kept the memories alive and the lessons relevant. In the soon-to-be first South Florida Holocaust museum, the first in North America to tell the story in English and Spanish, we will put names and faces on the victims and we will raise the sounds of their moral voices of conscience to mute those of prejudice and hatred so that never again means never again to anyone, anywhere, any place, anytime.
As long as there is someone to tell the story, there is life. As long as there is someone to listen, there is hope. Because memories will be kept alive and relevant for the sake and future of all humanity.
Rositta Kenigsberg, president, Holocaust Documentation
& Education Center, Hollywood