German Minister of Foreign Affairs Annalena Baerbock tours the Holocaust History Museum
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10 February 2022
As the skies reopened to foreign delegations and tourists, Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, has once again seen a steady flow of international visitors, including the Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade from the United Kingdom Anne-Marie Trevelyan; Speaker of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen; Chairman of the Defense Affairs, Interior & Foreign Affairs Committee of the United Arab Emirates Federal National Council Dr. Ali Rashid Al Nuaimi; and German Minister of Foreign Affairs Annalena Baerbock. These visits not only showcase the global importance of Yad Vashem, they also highlight the continued relevancy of the Holocaust, and the ongoing need to understand to where unchecked racism can lead.
Each visitor received a personal guided tour of the Holocaust History Museum, Yad Vashem's flagship edifice depicting the chronological history of the Holocaust and the experiences of individual victims. The museum begins with a chilling video-art display entitled "A Living Landscape," a series of archival movie clips and images illustrating the rich cultural life of the Jews of Europe during the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries, and ends with a display of photographs and artifacts depicting the "Anguish of Liberation" – the physical and emotional pain of the surviving Jews, many of whom discovered that they were now alone in the world, with neither family nor home.
At the conclusion of the visit, each of the honored visitors signed the Yad Vashem Guestbook, reflecting on their personal experiences on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem; commemorating the six million men, women and children murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators during the Holocaust; and pledging to work towards combatting antisemitism and hate.
Chairman Al Nuaimi remarked:
"There are no words that can describe what I have seen today. This is not [just] the Jewish people's responsibility, it's [also that of] the international community. All of us are responsible to make sure that what happened then will never happen again. What happened during the Holocaust, happened because the Jews were left on their own."
Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan thanked Dr. Al Nuaimi for his:
"strong words, for the educational message – not a political message – but a moral and educational message that you conveyed here to the world. The words that you wrote in Arabic bring hope to Israel, bring hope to the UAE, and therefore bring hope to humanity."
In her remarks after visiting the Children's Memorial, dedicated to the 1.5 million Jewish children murdered by the Holocaust, Speaker Čmilytė-Nielsen spoke about her hometown of Šiauliai, a vibrant city in Lithuania whose established Jewish community, 30,000 strong before the war, was decimated by the Nazis.
"We must remember the faces of innocent victims and save them from sinking into oblivion," she warned. "We can only talk about the future when we understand the scale of the catastrophe and our responsibility to remember the past."
In the Yad Vashem Guestbook, Ms. Čmilytė-Nielsen wrote:
"Yad Vashem is a place where one feels an enormous need for silence, as there are no words that would be enough to describe the horrible tragedy of the Holocaust. We must never forget neither the victims nor the executioners, and remain thankful for all those who risked their lives and the lives of their loved ones and made the moral choice to help and save Jews."
Secretary of State Anne-Marie Trevelyan spoke outside the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem:
"So many decades have passed, but we will not, must not, ever forget the Holocaust," she pledged. "We will continue to speak up."
Minister Baerbock was accompanied by the Israel's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Idan Roll. During her visit, she remarked:
"As a German and as my country's Foreign Minister, I pause humbly here at Yad Vashem, at this place of remembrance of the suffering of millions, the genocide of the Jews of Europe – planned down to the last detail, recorded and executed by Germans.
"As the mother of two daughters, it becomes difficult to breathe when I think of the millions of Jewish children who were murdered – torn from their parents, left alone, full of fear of the unknown. The thought of the pain of each and every child, of each and every mother and each and every father is almost unbearable.
"This place of pain very much demands that we not fall silent, that we not stand still. Yad Vashem beseeches us to hear the voices of the very people who experienced the horror, and to pass on their testimony. It is our responsibility to raise [our] voices against antisemitism, against hatred and hate speech, so that such a crime against humanity is never repeated."
To learn more about the Holocaust and experience the personal stories on display, please click here for more information about how to schedule your own tour of Yad Vashem.