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Capitol event honors survivors, liberators

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Holocaust survivors and WWII veterans who helped liberate concentration camps will be honored in Sacramento during a ceremony at 12 p.m. Monday, April 19.

More than 40 survivors, veterans and their guests from around the state are expected to attend, sharing stories of survival and memorializing those who lost their lives. During the event in the Capitol, Assembly Concurrent Resolution 31, which formally proclaims April 12 to April 18 as California Holocaust Memorial Week, will be presented on the Assembly floor.

The ceremony is part of the state Assembly’s annual Holocaust Memorial Project, and will be hosted by Assemblymembers Ira Ruskin (D-Redwood City) and Marty Block (D-San Diego).

“It’s vital that we keep and share this knowledge — that we teach our children and future generations that acts of heroism during the Holocaust serve as a powerful example of how our nation and our citizens can and must respond to acts of hatred and inhumanity,” Ruskin said.

Rabbi Denise Eger, founding rabbi of Congregation Kol Ami in West Hollywood  and vice president of the Southern California Board of Rabbis, will be the keynote speaker and chaplain.

In addition to the annual ceremony, students interview survivors and write essays about their Holocaust experiences. The essays are bound into books and distributed to ceremony participants, as well as to students and schools, survivors and veterans, legislators, libraries and community organizations. This is the first year that the book of essays includes stories of World War II veterans who liberated concentration camps.          

For more information, call Ruskin’s office at (650) 691-2121.


Posted by cweinbl
04/16/2010  at  11:15 AM
Remembering the Holocaust

No event in human history has been studied more thoroughly and carefully than the Holocaust.  Thousands of thesis and dissertations papers have poured over mountains of data, from physical evidence and anecdotal testimony to captured German war documents.  Virtually everyone with a PhD in History will stake their career on the fact that millions of Jews were systematically exterminated by Nazi Germany.  One can no more “revise” this fact than one can revise the existence of gravity.  Wannsee Conference records prove that Nazis planned the extermination of Jews as, “The Final Solution.”  German concentration camp records prove that it was carried out.

Whenever we stand up to those who deny or minimize genocide we send a critical message to the world. As we continue to live in an age of genocide and ethnic cleansing, we must repel the broken ethics of our ancestors, or risk a dreadful repeat of past transgressions.

Holocaust deniers ply their mendacious poison everywhere, especially with young people on the Internet. Deniers seek to distort the truth in a way that promotes antagonism against the object of their hatred, or to deny the culpability of their ancestors and heroes.  If we ignore them, they will twist the minds of countless young people, creating a new generation of those who deny the facts of the worst episode of genocide in history. Freedom of speech and the press is a symbol of a healthy society. Yet, since no crime in history is so heinous as the Holocaust, its memory must be accurately preserved, to protect our children and grandchildren.

Museums and mandatory public education are tools to dispel bigotry, especially racial and ethnic hatred.  Books, plays, films and presentations can reinforce the veracity of past and present genocides.  They help to tell the true story of the perpetrators of genocide; and they reveal the abject terror, humiliation and degradation resulting from blind prejudice.  It is therefore essential that we disclose the factual brutality and horror of genocide, combating the deniers’ virulent, inaccurate historical revision.  We must protect vulnerable future generations from making the same mistakes.

A world that continues to allow genocide requires ethical remediation.  We must insist that religious, racial, ethnic, gender and orientation persecution is wrong; and that tolerance is our progeny’s only hope.  Only through such efforts can we reveal the true horror of genocide and promote the triumphant spirit of humankind.

Charles Weinblatt
Author, “Jacob’s Courage”

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