Statement of Congressman Nadler on the 60th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz

Jan 26, 2005

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) today commemorated the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps.  His remarks to the House of Representatives follow.

“Mr. Speaker, I solemnly rise today to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the first and largest Nazi concentration camp stumbled across by Allied troops as they fought back Nazi Germany.

Today, the twin camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau are silent, yet full of the ghosts of horrors of boundless slaughter, torture and sadistic human experimentation.  We lost over one million souls at Auschwitz alone.  Over 5 million more innocent people with names, families and lives were murdered at several other Nazi concentration camps.

On January 27, 1945, Allied troops marched by the ashes of those killed at Auschwitz, and freed the few remaining survivors.  Tattooed with a number on their left forearm, and inconceivable torment in their minds and bodies, the survivors walked under the Auschwitz gate adorned with the words “Arbeit Macht Frei” or “Work Makes Freedom” as emancipated men and women.

The survivors miraculously got on with their lives, although the pain of their memories did not diminish.  Many have become successful doctors, teachers, writers and entrepreneurs.  Others served valiantly in defending the state of Israel against hatemongers with similar intentions as the Nazis.  Many others settled in New York’s Eight Congressional District, which I proudly represent, and added immensely to New York City’s soul and wealth of character.  Theirs is a remarkable story of the human spirit.

It is an appalling realization that 60 years after the Holocaust, the Jewish people are still persecuted, anti-Semitism remains prevalent in many parts of the world, and genocide occurs and is often ignored.

As we commemorate this 60th anniversary, we face the terrible reality that anti-Semitism did not die in Auschwitz.  Many of those who survived the holocaust are now reliving the unspeakable horror of anti-Semitic hatred for the sole reason of their religion and identity.

Moreover, 60 years later, we continue to turn our backs on the victims of hatred and genocide.  We failed to appropriately respond to devastation and death in Rwanda, and now we repeat our desertion of innocent women and children in Sudan.

Let us honor the memories of those who died in Auschwitz and the Holocaust and the lives of those who survived it, by combating anti-Semitism, hate and bigotry today, tomorrow, and always.

Let us never forget.”