The president of the Yad Vashem Museum on International Holocaust Day: “If it happened once, it can happen twice”

Dani Dayan speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, File)

On the occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Daythe president of the museum yad vashem of Jerusalem, Dani Dayangave a virtual press conference in which He called on governments, institutions and society to always remember what happened in the Shoah to prevent a similar event from happening again.

“If it happened once, it can happen twice”said Dayan, who previously served as Israel’s consul general in New York.

The president of the museum stressed that over time Holocaust denial has been declining. “No serious leader in the world says that the Holocaust did not happen”he stated, except for officials of the Iranian regime and other countries who still maintain that the Shoah was a fictitious eventjust like some “social media lunatics”.

However, Dayan warned about other two phenomena that he considers dangerous: the distortion and the trivialization of the Holocaust. Regarding the first, he said that comes from governments and strong political parties. He gave as an example those countries that consider themselves innocent because they say they did not collaborate with the Nazis and try to erase the historical record of the guilt of their own citizens in the atrocities. “In European countries, the Nazis had collaborators”assured.

“Distortion of the Holocaust is more serious than denial”, he claimed. “At Yad Vashem we fight distortion because we owe it to the victims,” he added.

Visitors walk through an exhibition marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial center in Jerusalem January 26, 2022. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
Visitors walk through an exhibition marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial center in Jerusalem on January 26, 2022. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun (RONEN ZVULUN/)

The other phenomenon on which he called to be alert is the trivialization of the holocaust. He exemplified what happened recently in the United States, where a network journalist foxnews compared physician Anthony Fauci to Josef Mengele, the Nazi criminal who tortured and experimented on children during the Holocaust. “We can’t accept that kind of thing,” Dayan said.

In addition, urged governments to freely open the archives to investigate and obtain more information about what happened during Nazism. “Sometimes, we tend to forget the 6 million Jews who did not get to give their testimony. Free and unrestricted research is essential”, he assured.

Dayan revealed that many politicians, diplomats and global leaders visit the Yad Vashem museum annually, and he asks everyone not to never forget what happened to honor the memory of the victims. Although he acknowledged that anti-Semitism is still latent in Europe, he stated that now the difference with the past is that “we have experience”.

“Remembering the Holocaust is also a task for society, not just for governments”he concluded.

Raul Hilberg
A group of surviving children behind barbed wire at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi concentration camp in southern Poland, on the day of the camp’s liberation by the Red Army, on January 27, 1945. Photo taken by photographer of the Red Army, Captain Alexander Vorontsov, during the shooting of a film about the liberation of the camp. (Bilderwelt Gallery/)

Why is it celebrated? International Holocaust Remembrance Day

The January 27, 1945, Near the end of World War II, when the Allies were closing in on the German army, Soviet troops arrived at the extermination camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau to free the survivors. There they found the images that accounted for the horrors of Nazism.

In commemoration of this event, in November 2005, the United Nations General Assembly passed resolution 60/7 which designates January 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

In that resolution, the UN reaffirms that “The Holocaust, which resulted in the murder of a third of the Jewish people and countless members of other minorities, will always be a warning to the entire world of the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice.”


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