- Agency Gazeta/Kuba Ociepa/via REUTERS
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum released a statement Monday amid controversy over President Donald Trump’s omission of Jews in his own comment on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“The Holocaust was the systematic, state-sponsored murder of six million Jews by Nazi Germany and its collaborators,” the museum said.
The museum said millions of “innocent civilians” were murdered by the Nazis, but “the elimination of Jews was central to Nazi policy.”
“As Elie Wiesel said, ‘Not all victims were Jews, but all Jews were victims.’ … An accurate understanding of this history is critical if we are to learn its lessons and honor its victims.”
International Holocaust Remembrance Day took place on Friday.
Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, defended the administration’s statement in a Monday press conference, saying that Trump “went out of his way to recognize the Holocaust.”
Spicer also noted that the statement was written with “the help of an individual who is both Jewish and the decedent of Holocaust survivors,” which may refer to White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law.
The White House’s statement did not mention Jews specifically, but rather the “victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust.”
Here’s the White House’s statement:
“It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust. It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror.
“Yet, we know that in the darkest hours of humanity, light shines the brightest. As we remember those who died, we are deeply grateful to those who risked their lives to save the innocent.
“In the name of the perished, I pledge to do everything in my power throughout my Presidency, and my life, to ensure that the forces of evil never again defeat the powers of good. Together, we will make love and tolerance prevalent throughout the world.”
And here’s the Holocaust Memorial’s full statement:
“The Holocaust was the systematic, state-sponsored murder of six million Jews by Nazi Germany and its collaborators. Nazi ideology cast the world as a racial struggle, and the singular focus on the total destruction of every Jewish person was at its racist core. Millions of other innocent civilians were persecuted and murdered by the Nazis, but the elimination of Jews was central to Nazi policy. As Elie Wiesel said, ‘Not all victims were Jews, but all Jews were victims.’
“The Holocaust teaches us profound truths about human societies and our capacity for evil. An accurate understanding of this history is critical if we are to learn its lessons and honor its victims.
“A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum inspires citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity. Its far-reaching education programs and global impact are made possible by generous donors. Learn more at ushmm.org.”