Congress Holds Holocaust Ceremony, Urging Non-jews, Also, to Remember

Both Jews and non-Jews have the obligation to remember the Holocaust so that they, too, will never become victims of tyranny, Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell (D-Maine) said Thursday at a Holocaust remembrance ceremony in the Capitol.

“Today, it may be someone I don’t know; tomorrow, someone I don’t like; then suddenly my neighbor and then me,” Mitchell warned.

He spoke at the 11th annual national Days of Remembrance ceremony in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda before an audience packed with Holocaust survivors, Jewish leaders and members of the House and Senate.

President Bush, in a letter read at the ceremony, also emphasized that individual lessons need be drawn from the Holocaust.

Benjamin Meed, chairman of the Days of Remembrance Committee and president of the Warsaw Ghetto Resistance Organization, thanked the president for organizing an international coalition to force Iraq out of Kuwait.

In his letter, Bush took note of the Persian Gulf crisis but did not draw any parallel between the Holocaust and the killing of Kurds and Shi’ite Moslems in Iraq by the forces of Saddam Hussein.

But Mitchell and Meed did.

“Today’s victims are the Kurds, not Jews,” the senator said.

And Meed said, “We who emerged from the pits of hell know the consequences of silence and indifference.” The slogan “Never again” is “not for Jews only,” he said.

Harvey Meyerhoff, chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, which organizes the annual ceremony, presented the council’s Eisenhower Liberation Medal to Jan Karski, a Polish Catholic who during the war sneaked into the Warsaw ghetto and passed secret information to the Polish government in exile in London as well as the U.S. government.

ARMY BAND PLAYS YIDDISH SONGS

A medal was also presented posthumously to Varian Fry, who as a young American working in Marseille between August 1940 and September 1941 saved the lives of more than 2,000 refugee artists and intellectuals and their families who were trapped in Vichy France after the Nazi takeover of that country.

The U.S. Army Band played “Ani Ma’amin” (I Believe), the Hebrew song of faith which Jews sang as they went to their deaths, and two Yiddish songs from the Vilna Ghetto, “Es Brent” (It’s Burning) and the “Hymn of the Partisans.”

Stefan Moise, a Gypsy survivor, played “Goodbye Happy Moments” on his violin, the same melody he played during his internment in 1942 in Transnistria, the Ukrainian region where Romanian Jews and Gypsies were deported.

His wife, Maria, was one of six survivors who lit memorial candles during the ceremony. Candle-lighters were accompanied by members of Congress.

The hymn for the dead, “El Moleh Rachamim,” was chanted by Cantor Joseph Malovany of New York’s Fifth Avenue Synagogue. Abraham Foxman, vice chairman of the Days of Remembrance Committee and national director of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, recited the Kaddish.

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