As the world took a moment to reflect on and remember the millions of Jews who lost their lives during the Holocaust on Sunday, Jan. 27, President Donald Trump joined other world leaders in sharing commemorative messages on the 74th anniversary of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. In light of the rise of anti-Semitic hate crimes and data that shows that the youngest generation's knowledge of the genocide is fading, President Trump's Holocaust Remembrance Day 2019 message called out the Holocaust as a "crime against humanity." Not only does the White House's official statement include a first-person account from a World War II soldier who witnessed the atrocities at a concentration camp, but it also condemns "any denial or indifference" to the Holocaust.
On Sunday, President Trump took to Twitter in light of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which remembers the day in 1945 when Allied forces liberated prisoners at the Auschwitz concentration camp. In addition to sharing a photo of himself, First Lady Melania Trump, and daughter Ivanka Trump laying a wreath at the Yad Vashem memorial to Holocaust victims in Israel, which he visited in 2017, the president also shared a link to an official White House statement that began with a powerful eyewitness account from an American soldier who was haunted by what he saw at the Dachau concentration camp.
The presidential message began:
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.'
In contrast to previous White House statements that Trump has shared on the day of remembrance, his 2019 message specifically enumerated the evils of the Nazi regime by condemning the murder of six million Jews as well as the systematic enslavement and killings of "Slavs, Roma, gays, people with disabilities, religious leaders, and others who courageously opposed their cruel regime."
In light of recent findings from the Anti-Defamation League, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, and the Azrieli Foundation that show that general knowledge of the Holocaust is alarmingly declining, per USA Today, the president's statement on Jan. 27 emphasized a need for continued education and remembrance.
The message read:
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.
Although President Trump's official message ended with a call to remember those who have fought for the "preservation and security of the Jewish people," it didn't mention the recent rise of violence against Jews — as well as public's declining level of knowledge on the Holocaust.
According to a 2017 report from the Anti-Defamation League, two-thirds of Millennials don't know what Auschwitz is and anti-Semitic attacks have gone up by 57 percent in recent years. With the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh last October still fresh in the nation's thoughts, this year's day of remembrance is hopefully a catalyst that inspires renewed efforts to educate the public about the atrocity.