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Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the Floor of the House of Representatives in support of H.R. 943, the Never Again Education Act, bipartisan legislation to support and strengthen Holocaust education. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you, Madam Speaker. I thank the gentleman for yielding and for his leadership in bringing this important, bipartisan legislation to the Floor. I thank Congresswoman Maloney for her relentless advocacy in this regard. Thank you, Madam Chair.
I rise to join my colleagues on this International Holocaust Remembrance Day in support of the Never Again Education Act: strong, bipartisan legislation to ensure that ‘Never Again’ are simply not words, but a solemn, sacred pledge to be fulfilled with action.
I salute Carolyn Maloney and – a long-standing leader in this effort to educate the next generation about the Holocaust. I thank you, too, Chairman Scott, for your work in this regard and your cooperation in bringing this to the Floor. And to all of our Members who have worked on this overwhelmingly bipartisan effort, reflecting the strong, bipartisan commitment of this entire Congress to standing with the Jewish community and allies to ensure Holocaust education remains front and center in our schools.
Last week, I had the great and solemn honor of being with a bipartisan congressional delegation to Poland and Israel to mark the 75th anniversary since the liberation of Auschwitz. I see two of our colleagues from the trip, Mr. Deutch and Mr. Schneider, who were part of that, brought so much to that delegation. Both of them serve on the Board of the Holocaust Museum. Thank you.
At Auschwitz, we walked on ground scarred by almost unspeakable evil where more than one million innocents were murdered. I was especially affected because – as my colleagues have heard me say – what my father said on the House Floor on March 2, 1943. Madam Speaker, I’m quoting from the Congressional Record, and I hope these words can be again admitted to the record. On that day, my father talked about – he said, ‘Action, not pity, can save millions now – extinction or hope for the remnants of European Jewry? It is for us to give the answer.’ He was pleading for Soviet Jews in the midst of the Holocaust.
He said, ‘Daily, hourly, the greatest crime of all time is being committed. A defenseless and innocent people are being slaughtered in a wholesale massacre of million. What is more tragic, they are dying for no reason or no purpose.’ He went on to say, ‘It is a satanic program beyond the grasp of the decent human mind. Yet is being carried out. Already two million of the Jews in German-occupied Europe have been murdered. The evidence is in the files of our own State Department,’ he went on to say.
Toward the end of his remarks – oh by the way, my father is Thomas D’Alesandro Jr., a Member of Congress from Baltimore, Maryland, strong advocate for calling the public’s attention to the plight of Jews in Europe, as well as advocating for the state of Israel to be established in Palestine earlier on than our country had gone forth. He did say, though, that ‘We will spare no effort and have no rest until the American public will be fully informed of the facts and aroused to its responsibilities.’ He then said, ‘We believe in the overwhelming power of public opinion as the greatest, if not the only power in democracy,’ and went on to say, if people knew people something would be different.
Madam Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to submit my father’s Floor statement into the record.
Speaker Pro Tempore. Without objection, may be so entered.
Speaker Pelosi. Back into the record, because this is what he said on the Floor of the House all those many years ago.
After Auschwitz, our delegation then traveled to Yad Vashem, where we mourned the loss of millions including – can you believe this – 1.5 million – a million and a half little children killed in this most evil of atrocities.
Before we left Washington, in Krakow and in Poland and throughout the time in Israel, we were blessed to hear the testimony of survivors and the message to us was this: never forget.
As Elie Wiesel, one of the most important voices of conscience that has ever lived, said, ‘If we forget, the dead will be killed a second time… If we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices… Rejection of memory would doom us to repeat disasters, past wars.’
Remembering the Holocaust, fighting anti-Semitism: that was the theme of the Yad Vashem observance. It is the charge that we carry with us. We must always remember the horrors of the Holocaust, particularly now, as the forces of evil that led to the Shoah are reawakening. And therefore, we must not only remember the Holocaust, but fight anti-Semitism.
Today, around the world, an epidemic of anti-Semitism and bigotry is spreading with appalling hate crimes being perpetrated everywhere, from supermarkets to synagogues. Disturbingly, we have seen an increase of attacks here in America.
230 years ago, President George Washington – under whose gaze we stand today – our patriarch, wrote to the Jewish community that our nation would give ‘to bigotry no sanction, to persecution, no assistance.
Yet, from New York to California to Pittsburgh, innocent lives are being threatened and too often, bigotry and persecution have been allow to fester. Much more needs to be done.
Last week – last spring, the House proudly passed House Resolution H. 183, which condemns anti-Semitism ‘as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values that define the people of the United States.’ And soon after, we passed legislation to secure Jewish places of worship, which is now the law.
Today, with this legislation, the House is taking another step to fulfill our pledge of ‘Never Again,’ thanks to all of you.
This legislation authorizes funding for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to support and strengthen their efforts to develop accurate, relevant and accessible resources to promote understanding about the Shoah and the dangers of intolerance in our time. We must educate the world about the dangers about what can happen when hate goes unchallenged and when oppression is met with indifference.
Some of us were there the day the Holocaust Memorial Museum was dedicated. Elie Wiesel spoke so powerfully that rainy day and years later, I was honored to return to the museum to speak at Elie’s memorial service.
Inside the memorial, the Holocaust Memorial Museum, in the Hall of Remembrance before the eternal flame, the words of Deuteronomy are inscribed in stone. It says, ‘Only guard yourself and guard your soul carefully, lest you forget the things your eyes say and these things depart your heart all the days of your life and you shall make them known to your children, and your children’s children.’
With this legislation, we pledge to keep alive the memory of the Shoah, so that we can fulfill the promise: Never Again.
I hope we have an overwhelming – I anticipate a unanimous vote in support of this bipartisan legislation and I thank my colleagues for their leadership on both sides of the aisle for making that victory possible.
I yield back the balance of my time.
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