Between 1933 and 1945, the German government, led by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party, carried out the systematic murder of Jews in the Holocaust, the greatest tragedy ever to befall the Jewish people. The Nazi regime also persecuted and killed millions of other people it considered politically, racially, or socially unfit. The Allies’ victory ended World War II, but not before Nazi Germany and its collaborators had murdered six million Jews, and millions of others, as well as leaving countless lives shattered.
We remember the Shoah because we need to understand the crimes that humans are capable of. We need to reflect with pain and humility that the Shoah would not have been possible without the help of ordinary men and women who followed orders without question or simply stood by doing nothing. We need to understand because it is our obligation to ensure that this will never happen again.
The Shoah is a tragedy that we can barely fathom, but we must. We must remember: to mourn and honor the lives and memories of those who died, to comfort those who survived, to praise those who risked their lives to save their fellow human beings, and to commit to do more with our lives to confront injustice, anti-Semitism, and prejudice in all its forms.
In America we also commemorate Yom HaShoah in schools, museums, and communities across the country; and looking to the future we reaffirm the commitments we have made to Israel’s security, including our commitment to address the kinds of threats that Israel is facing today. A strong, secure Israel, with the deep friendship of the United States, is the strongest means of ensuring there can be no second Shoah perpetrated against the Jewish people. There are, as we have recently been reminded, people who seek to do harm to Israel and seek to harm Jews around the world. They seek to confront the values of democracy and freedom that we share between the United States, Israel, and other free people around the world. Today we stand our ground and resolutely declare, never again.