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'History will not repeat itself', Obama vows on 70th anniversary of liberation of Dachau

WJC, US President Barack Obama commemorated the more than 40,000 people who were killed at the Nazi concentration camp Dachau, near Munich, which was liberated by American forces on 29 April 1945.

Obama said in a statement: "On this day, we remember when American forces liberated Dachau 70 years ago, dismantling the first concentration camp established by the Nazi regime. Dachau is a lesson in the evolution of darkness, how unchecked intolerance and hatred spiral out of control.

"From its sinister inception in 1933, Dachau held political prisoners – opponents of the Third Reich. It became the prototype for Nazi concentration camps and the training ground for SS camp guards. As the seed of Nazi evil grew, the camp swelled with thousands of others across Europe targeted by the Nazis, including Jews, other religious sects, Sinti, Roma, LGBT persons, the disabled, and those deemed asocial.

"Our hearts are heavy in remembrance of the more than 40,000 individuals from every walk of life who died, and the more than 200,000 who suffered at Dachau. As we reflect on the anniversary of Dachau’s liberation, we draw inspiration from, and recall with gratitude, the sacrifices of so many Americans – in particular our brave soldiers – to win victory over oppression. Drawing from the words of Captain Timothy Brennan, who wrote to his wife and child after liberating the camp: 'You cannot imagine that such things exist in a civilized world', we fervently vow that such atrocities will never happen again. History will not repeat itself."

The Nazis set up the camp in Dachau only weeks after Adolf Hitler took power in 1933. More than 200,000 people had been detained there by the time US troops liberated it.
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WJC President Lauder addresses March of the Living in Budapest, denounces far-right Jobbik party

World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ronald S. Lauder strongly denounced anti-Semitism and criticized Hungary’s far-right Jobbik party in his keynote address in front of thousands at this year’s ‘March of the Living’ in Budapest in commemoration of the victims of the Holocaust.

“The March of the Living reminds us what happens when the world is silent,” said Lauder. “We will never be silent again. And when it comes to anti-Semitism, the Hungarian government must never be silent.”

“Today, when the world looks at Hungary, it does not see its great culture. It does not see its beautiful cities. It does not remember its great and glorious past,” continued Lauder, adding: “Today, the world sees Hungary, and it sees Jobbik. It sees an extremist party that promotes hate.”

On its website, Jobbik calls for fighting “Zionist Israel’s quest for world domination." In the past, some of its leaders questioned whether the Holocaust took place and called for drawing up a list of Jewish lawmakers who may pose a “national security risk.” In 2013, the party held a protest rally against the World Jewish Congress Plenary Assembly in Budapest.

Later on Sunday, Jobbik party scored a narrow victory in a by-election, marking a breakthrough in its challenge to the Fidesz party of Prime Minister Viktor Orban. With more than 99 per cent of ballots counted, Lajos Rig, Jobbik’s candidate, topped the poll in the district of Tapolca, with 35.3 per cent of the vote.

In his speech, Lauder also condemned acts of anti-Semitism. “There are statues of shoes along the Danube. They are there as a memorial to the Jewish people who were murdered there. No-one has the right to spit in those shoes. No-one. In this great city we send one clear message to the entire world: The Hungarian Jewish community is alive and well. And the Hungarian Jewish community is not going anywhere. We march today to say: We are here. We are alive. And here we will remain.”

About 560,000 Hungarian Jews were murdered during the Holocaust, most of them in 1944. Today, Hungary’s Jewish community numbers around 100,000 and it is still the largest in Central Europe.

Lauder highlighted the contribution of Hungarian Jews to their country. “Jews helped make this country great. When Jews are part of a society, any society, countries prosper. Jews win Nobel prizes. Jews create jobs and they cure diseases. Jews build -- they don’t tear down! Anti-Semites tear down, they destroy, they create nothing, they save no-one. And when Jews are forced to leave, they take their success with them,” he told the crowd in central Budapest.

The ‘March of the Living’ in Hungary is organized every year by the March of the Living Foundation, with the support of the MAZSIHISZ, the Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary. Thousands participated in today’s event.



Transcript of the speech by Ronald S. Lauder at the March of the Living, Budapest, 12 April 2015


I stand here today as a proud Jew. Proud of my ancient heritage. Proud of my people. Proud of what we have created. I am also proud of my Hungarian heritage. But I know that if my grandparents had not left Hungary, if I had born here in 1944, I would have been one of the tens-of-thousands of Jewish children gassed at Auschwitz.

That is why we are here today. That is why we march together. Not just because of what happened 70 years ago, but because of what is happening here today.

70 years after Hitler and Auschwitz and the Arrow-Cross Jews are targeted once again. 70 years later, we see the same signs that we saw before. I stand here today to tell you that no one, no political party, no thugs in the night, No-one has the right to threaten our people. No-one has the right to deface our synagogues. No-one has the right to hurt our children.

There are statues of shoes along the Danube. They are there as a memorial to the Jewish people who were murdered there. No-one has the right to spit in those shoes. No-one.

In this great city we send one clear message to the entire world: The Hungarian Jewish community is alive and well. And the Hungarian Jewish community is not going anywhere. We march today to say: We are here. We are alive. And here we will remain. The March of the Living also reminds us of what happens when the world is silent.

Silence allows the lowest forces of mankind out in the open. We Jews learned this lesson the hard way. We know what happens when the world is silent. And the price we paid was too high. For that reason, we will never be silent again. I will never be silent. I will not be silent when Jews are the target. I will not be silent when Christians are the target. When any group is singled out by hate, I will not be silent. And when someone spits in those shoes along the Danube and the Hungarian government does not condemn that, it looks like the government agrees. When someone stands up in Parliament and wants to put Jews on lists, the government must not be silent. When it comes to anti-Semitism, the Hungarian government must never be silent.

Sometimes people forget the important role Jews played in Hungary. Jews helped make this country great. When Jews are part of a society, any society, countries prosper. Jews win Nobel prizes. Jews create jobs and they cure diseases. Jews build they don’t tear down! Anti-Semites tear down, they destroy, they create nothing, they save no one. And when Jews are forced to leave, they take their success with them.

Jobbik may think they are true Hungarians trying to save Hungary. But Jobbik hurts Hungary. In the eyes of the rest of the world, people see Jobbik, they see an extremist party that promotes hate. Jobbik does not even realize that they hurt Hungary’s future. Today, when the world looks at Hungary, it does not see its great culture. It does not see its beautiful cities. It does not remember its great and glorious past. Today, the world sees Hungary and they see Jobbik.

And when businessmen want to invest in Hungary, they also see Jobbik and they are afraid to come. Jobbik hurts Hungary. Do not allow a small percentage of the population to destroy Hungary. The people of Hungary are too good for that. This march is being covered by hundreds of news organizations.

In this world of instant pictures and the Internet, news is flashed around the globe in an instant. And when there is an act of hate against anyone that is the news that people see outside of Hungary. Everything good that Hungary did in 1956 and its push for capitalism, all of that is forgotten. In the end, you must decide the image you want to send to the world.

Look around you. Today, there are thousands of Hungarians, Jews and Christians, marching together against hate. You march together for a better future. That is the image you want people to see. You want people to know that Jobbik is not Hungary.

Hungary has a bright future. Hungary and the Jewish people are tied together. Thank you for standing with us. I believe strongly this is our only choice. We stand together and we say enough! Enough anti-Semitism. Enough hatred. Enough death and destruction. Today we turn an important corner and we start building together.

To everyone here I say: Thank you for standing against anti-Semitism and hate. Thank you for standing with the Jewish people. Thank you for remembering. And I say again: Jobbik is not Hungary. Hungary is the thousands of Christians who are here today to support the Jewish community.

Today we honor life, not death. This is the March of the LIVING! We will work together to make our world a better place. We look forward not backward. But we will not be silent.
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100 Auschwitz Survivors to Attend 70th Anniversary Ceremony of Camp's Liberation

NEW YORK, More than 100 Auschwitz survivors from at least 17 countries will travel to Poland to participate in the observance of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz on 27 January 2015, on the occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The official event will be organized by the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and the International Auschwitz Council. The World Jewish Congress and the USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education will be among the organizations supporting this commemorative event.

The main commemoration will take place in front of the infamous Death Gate at Birkenau. The ceremony will be under the high patronage of Poland’s President Bronislaw Komorowski and begin at 15:30 local time. Countries from around the world will be sending official delegations, some of which will include Auschwitz survivors.

“This anniversary is crucial because it may be the last major one marked by survivors. We are truly honored that so many of them, despite their age, have agreed to make this trip,” said Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress. “Few moments in the drama that was World War II are more etched in our collective memory then the day Red Army troops came upon, perhaps, the greatest evil of our time,” he said.

“We have to say it clearly: It is the last big anniversary that we can commemorate with a significant group of survivors,” said Dr. Piotr M.A. Cywiński, director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. “Until now, it has been them who taught us how to look at the tragedy of the victims of the Third Reich and the total destruction of the world of European Jews. Their voices became the most important warning against the human capacity for extreme humiliation, contempt and genocide.”

“On this special day we want to show the survivors and the whole world that we, the post-war generation, have matured to our own responsibility for remembrance,” Marek Zając, secretary of the International Auschwitz Council, declared.

Ronald Lauder praised the efforts to preserve the site where at least 1.1 million people, most of them Jews, were murdered within less than five years. “Twenty-five years ago, when I saw the stunning truth of Auschwitz for the first time, every part of the former camp was disintegrating. Now, after a monumental effort, it has been preserved for future generations, and that is important in an age of Holocaust deniers.”

Twenty years ago, Ronald Lauder, along with Kalman Sultanik and Ernie Michel, raised $40 million from 19 countries in order to ensure that what remained in Auschwitz-Birkenau forever be preserved and bear witness for future generations. Lauder also financed the creation of the conservation laboratory at the Auschwitz Memorial, which preserves every shoe, every document, and every building that remained at the site.

The financing of the long-term preservation is continued by the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation. It was created in 2009 to collect €120 million ($151 million) for the Perpetual Capital which will finance conservation work and preservation of all authentic remains of the former Auschwitz camp. To date, 32 countries have contributed over €102 million ($128 million). The Foundation has started the ’18 Pillars of Memory’ campaign to raise the remaining €18 million and it hopes to be able to announce the completion of the project on the day of the 70th anniversary of liberation.

Ahead of the event, the World Jewish Congress has located Auschwitz survivors from at least 17 countries who are willing to travel to Poland, especially from countries from which Jews were deported to Auschwitz during the war and from countries where significant numbers of survivors settled after the Shoah.

With the help of archivists from the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, USC Shoah Foundation has identified the children from the historic photo (left) taken by Red Army photographer Alexander Vorontsov who in 1945 documented the liberation of the death camp. The surviving children are now between the ages of 81 and 86 and have been also invited to participate in the official commemoration.

“Faced as we are with the loss of living witnesses,” said Stephen Smith, USC Shoah Foundation executive director, “it is imperative we honor them and take their stories with us into the future so those who come after us will have no excuse to let such atrocities happen again. Survivors speak not only for themselves, but for the millions whose voices were violently silenced.”
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USC Shoah Foundation, World Jewish Congress to support official event on 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz

NEW YORK, USC Shoah Foundation - The Institute for Visual History and Education and the World Jewish Congress will be supporting the official observance of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz with Auschwitz: The Past is Present, a global communication and education program. As part of the program, the World Jewish Congress will arrange for 100 survivors of Auschwitz, the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp, to attend and participate in the official observance of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz on 27 January 2015.

Auschwitz commemoration in January 2005The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and the International Auschwitz Council are the organizers of the official commemoration event. “January 27, 2015 will be a truly exceptional day,” said Piotr M.A. Cywiński, director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. “On this day of remembrance, the whole world will focus on the tragedy of the Shoah and the entire cruel system of ghettos and concentration camps. The survivors will be our most important guests.”

“When we gather at the site of unspeakable terror, we will do so to show not only survivors, but the entire world, that the suffering of so many will never be forgotten,” said USC Shoah Foundation Executive Director Stephen D. Smith. “Those who lived through the Holocaust have carried the burden of remembering long enough. It’s up to us now, their children and grandchildren, to lift its heavy weight off their shoulders. We are ready to take on the responsibility of ensuring that this tragic chapter of human history is never repeated.”

“Auschwitz is not only the world’s biggest Jewish graveyard, it is also the primary symbol of the Holocaust, the biggest organized mass murder in human history. This will probably mark the last time that so many survivors will be able to join us there, and we must ensure that the unspeakable suffering they and many others had to endure at Auschwitz will not be forgotten once they are no longer among us,” said WJC CEO Robert Singer. He went on to say: “The World Jewish Congress and our President Ronald S. Lauder are honored that such renowned partners have agreed to jointly prepare this important anniversary, to ensure that this anniversary will get the world’s attention.”

An estimated 1.1 million people, most of them Jews, were murdered in Auschwitz, in German-occupied Poland, between 1941 and 1945.

USC Shoah Foundation - The Institute for Visual History and Education is dedicated to making audiovisual interviews with survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides, a compelling voice for education and action. The Institute’s current collection of over 53,000 eyewitness testimonies preserves history as told by the people who lived it, and lived through it. Housed at the University of Southern California, within the Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, the Institute works with partners around the world to advance scholarship and research, to provide resources and online tools for educators, and to disseminate the testimonies for educational purposes.
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Search for Shoah survivor’s lost twin brother given new boost as WJC Facebook post reaches 20 million


WJC, An Auschwitz survivor’s quest to find his twin brother he last saw in 1945 through Facebook has received an unexpected boost more than a year after it was launched. In recent days, coinciding with Yom HaShoah, Israel's Holocaust remembrance day, over 380,000 users shared a post from the World Jewish Congress Facebook page about Menachem Bodner’s search for his twin brotherJeno (nicknamed Jolli). So far, more than 20 million Facebook users world-wide have seen the post and nearly 40,000 commented on it.
Menachem Bodner, 73, lives in Israel. He was separated from Jeno when Auschwitz was liberated by the Allies in January 1945.
The Israeli genealogist Ayana KimRonhas helped him prove that he had a twin brother and that his sibling also survived the Nazi concentration camp in occupied Poland. KimRon was able to track down the twin brothers real names as Elias and Jeno Gottesmannwith the help of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and the International Tracking Service in BadArolsen, Germany .
After months of searching proved fruitless, the pair turned to Facebook, creating a page called A7734 - using the concentration camp number which was tattooed on Jeno's arm by the Nazis. The Nazis kept meticulous records of their crimes which revealed this information. Elias Gottesmann (now Menachem Bodner) was tattooed with the number A7733.
The brothers were born in the village of Stroino, in what was then part of Hungary and is now situated in Ukraine. Menachem was four-and-a-half when Auschwitz was liberated. In the chaos and confusion, he doesn't remember how he came to be separated from his brother, but he sought a way out. "I was in the camp. A man came in who was looking for his wife and daughter," he told CNN last year. "I stood before him and asked if he would be my father. He picked me up in his hands and took me out of the camp." His adopted father named himBodner and took him to Israel, where he still resides.
Anyone with information about the possible whereabouts of Jeno Gottesmann should contact the following email address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Yad Vashem visiting hours


On Remembrance Day Eve, Sunday, 27 April 2014, Yad Vashem will be open to the public until 12:00 only. Entrance to the Holocaust History Museum is permitted until one hour before closing. The Archives and Library will be open 8:30-12:00.

On Remembrance Day, Monday, 28 April 2014, the Holocaust History Museum, Visual Center and Children’s Memorial will open at 10:30. The Holocaust History Museum will be open to the public until 20:00. The Archives and Library will be open 8:30-17:00.

Private vehicles will not be admitted to Yad Vashem on Remembrance Day Eve or on Remembrance Day itself. Tour buses and taxis will be admitted to Yad Vashem from 11:00 on Remembrance Day. Parking facilities are available on Mt. Herzl and in the light railway car park. Shuttle buses will provide transportation from Mt. Herzl to Yad Vashem and back for all Remembrance Day events.

On Remembrance Day for Israel's Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism, 5 May 2014, Yad Vashem will be open 9:00-17:00. The Library and Archives will be closed.

On Independence Day, 6 May 2014, Yad Vashem will be closed.
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Lauder: March of the Living proves 'Hitler did not win'

 

Lauder told the gathering: "Seeing so many young people from around the world - both Jewish and of many other faiths and backgrounds - fills me with a feeling of hope for the future of the Jewish people and hope for all humanity"


World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder was among the leaders of this year's March of the Living at the former Nazi death camp Auschwitz. An estimated 11,000 people from dozens of countries, most of them under the age of 25, participated. The marchers walked the three-kilometer (1.9 mile) distance from the former Auschwitz concentration camp (StammlagerI) to Birkenau, where 1.1 million Jews were systematically murdered in gas chambers by the Nazis during World War II.
There, Lauder told the gathering: "Seeing so many young people from around the world - both Jewish and of many other faiths and backgrounds - fills me with a feeling of hope for the future of the Jewish people and hope for all humanity. Auschwitz symbolizes the depths humanity can reach - but every time young people like yourselves make their way to these tear soaked grounds, listen to the stories of survivors, and pledge to build a better world, I know with certainty, one thing: Hitler did not win."
Lauder condemned the growing tide of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment and ended his speech with 'Am Yisrael Chai'.
The march traditionally takes place annually on Yom HaShoah, Israel's Holocaust remembrance day. This year's edition marked the event's 25th anniversary. Israel's delegation was led by IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz.
More than 150,000 people have participated in the March of the Living over the past years. On Monday, participants from 42 countries came to the sites; most of them between the ages of 16 and 21. For many it was the first time that they wee directly confronted with places of the Nazi genocide.
Ahead of the March of the Living, Israel's President Shimon Peres had sent a message to the participants: "There are marches which are measured by the length of the journey, there are marches which are measured by time. You came on a march which cannot be compared, it is a march from the lowest point to the highest peak. The lowest point is the actions of the Nazis. There was no atrocity like it in history," Peres said.

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