This past Sunday was International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Set on the anniversary of the Russian Army's liberation of Auschwitz, the day was created by the United Nations to remember and honor the 6 million Jews and millions of others murdered by the Nazis.
On April 12, 1945, General Eisenhower personally visited the Ohrdruf Concentration Camp, bringing senior generals Patton and Bradley, along with military photographers. Anticipating that people would deny the Holocaust one day, he wanted to document the horrors.
Eisenhower ordered every American soldier in the area who was not on the front lines to visit Ohrdruf and Buchenwald. He wanted them to see what they were fighting against. Members of the U.S. Army Signal Corps recorded approximately 80,000 feet of moving film, together with still photographs.
Eisenhower understood that people would be unable to comprehend the scope of the horror. He also realized that human deeds that were so utterly evil might eventually be challenged or even denied as being literally unbelievable. For these reasons, he ordered that all the civilian news media and military combat camera units be required to visit the camps and record their observations in print, pictures, and film.
As he explained to General Marshall, "I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in a position to give firsthand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to 'propaganda.'"
The future president was correct. In recent years, anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial have become more mainstream.
Thankfully, those groups who attempt to deny that the Holocaust ever happened must confront the massive official record, including the evidence that Eisenhower ordered assembled. But despite the pictures, videos, and written records, Holocaust denial is alive, well, and mostly ignored in today's society.
Holocaust denial is even prevalent at the UN, which established the Remembrance Day. For example, Richard Falk, a former professor at Princeton, was a high-level employee of the UN from 2001 to 2014, the last six years as UN Special Rapporteur to the Palestinians. Falk wrote on his website that "the Holocaust is a massive fraud on the rest of us, with their lavish, self-financed Holocaust Museums all over America and the world."
Look to the media. Pat Buchanan was kicked out of National Review because of his anti-Semitism, and wrote in the New Republic about Treblinka, "Diesel engines do not emit enough carbon monoxide to kill anybody." This does not stop otherwise respectable media such as Rasmussen Reports to pay for his syndicated column.
Across the Atlantic, nearly 90 percent of European Jews feel that anti-Semitism has increased in their home countries over the past five years, and almost 30% say they have been harassed at least once in the past year. But despite the increase in anti-Semitism, a Eurobarometer poll released the week before Holocaust Remembrance Day shows that the hatred is going unnoticed by the general population. Only around a third of Europeans (36 percent) believe that anti-Semitism has increased in their country over the past five years. Even more (53%) believe that Holocaust denial is a problem in their country.
As reported in the Jerusalem Post on Holocaust Memorial Day, "One in 20 people in the United Kingdom doesn't believe the Holocaust really took place, according to a poll. This finding indicates there could be more than 3 million Holocaust deniers living in Britain in 2019."
When it's convenient, the Holocaust becomes a political weapon. In 2016, the Washington Post ran two different opinion pieces comparing then-candidate Trump to Hitler. The media also ignores inappropriate Holocaust references directed toward the president by a wide range of people, including Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto, the Huffington Post, comedian Louis C.K, and Rachel Maddow. Most recently, on his HBO program Bill Maher compared Trump supporters to "Mrs. Goebbels in the bunker with the cyanide giving the cyanide to the children because she does not want to live in a world without national socialism."
The inappropriate Holocaust references are not only directed toward the president. Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown compared Republican governors John Kasich, Scott Walker and Chris Christie to the Nazis. The media was silent when Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) compared conservative bloggers to Hitler.
On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, President Trump's statement demonstrated that he hasn't forgotten.
"On April 27, 1945, a young soldier of the 12th Armored Division of the United States Army wrote these astonishing words to his wife in the United States: 'Although I may never talk about what I have witnessed today. I will never forget what I have seen.' Aaron A. Eiferman's division was moving to a new position near Dachau when they 'came across a prison camp.' His historic account, like all subsequent descriptions, lacked the words to adequately convey the horror and the suffering that occurred at Dachau and in the other concentration and death camps of the Holocaust.
"The Third Reich, and its collaborators pursued the complete elimination of the entire Jewish people. Six million Jews were systematically slaughtered in horrific ways. The Nazis also enslaved and murdered Slavs, Roma, gays, people with disabilities, religious leaders, and others who courageously opposed their cruel regime. The brutality of the Holocaust was a crime against men, women, and children. It was a crime against humanity. It was a crime against G-d.
"On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, we hold in our hearts the memory of every man, woman, and child who was abused, tortured, or murdered during the Holocaust. To remember these men and women — those who perished and those who survived — is to strive to prevent such suffering from happening again. Any denial or indifference to the horror of this chapter in the history of humankind diminishes all men and women everywhere and invites repetition of this great evil. We remain committed to the post-Holocaust imperative: Never Again.
"'Never Again' means not only remembering — in a profound and lasting way — the evils of the Holocaust, but it also means remembering the individual men and women in this nation, and throughout the world, who have devoted their lives to the preservation and security of the Jewish people and to the betterment of all mankind."
While too many others are trivializing or denying the horrors of the Holocaust, President Trump remembers.