Holocaust Remembrance Day includes display of chilling 1919 Hitler letter at Museum of Tolerance
LOS ANGELES — The Simon Wiesenthal Center and its Museum of Tolerance will hold its annual Holocaust Remembrance Day Commemoration Thursday, with the theme, “Value, Morality and Justice.”
Rabbi Marvin Hier, the center’s founder and dean, will make a commemorative address at the museum focusing on the rise of anti-Semitism around the world.
The center will display “The Hitler Letter,” a letter written in 1919 by Adolf Hitler, the first letter the future German dictator wrote calling for the total annihilation of the Jewish people.
The letter was acquired by the center in 2011. It was found by an American soldier in a Nazi Party archive near Nuremberg, Germany, and had been held by a private owner.
“What began as a private letter, one man’s opinion, 22 years later became the ‘Magna Carta’ of an entire nation and led to the nearly total extinction of the Jewish people,” Hier said. “This is an important lesson for future generations. Demagogues mean what they say and given the opportunity, carry out what they promise.”
The commemoration will also include a speech to students by Ben Stern, a 97-year-old Holocaust survivor who organized a counter-demonstration to a planned march by a group of neo-Nazis in the heavily Jewish Chicago suburb of Skokie, Illinois, in 1978.
Wilhelmina and Cornelius de Ru will be posthumously recognized for saving Jewish lives in the Netherlands during World War II. Consul generals from Austria, Belgium and the Czech Republic will be part of the recognition ceremony, which will include grandchildren of the de Rus speaking about their family’s legacy.
The Westside-based Simon Wiesenthal Center is an international Jewish human rights organization that combats hate and anti-Semitism around the world.
The Museum of Tolerance is a human rights laboratory and educational center dedicated to challenging visitors to understand the Holocaust in both historic and contemporary contexts and confront all forms of prejudice and discrimination.
Under a 1953 law passed by the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, Holocaust Remembrance Day, Yom HaShoah, is annually observed on the 27th day of Nisan on the Hebrew calendar, which began at sundown Wednesday and ends at sundown today.
President Donald Trump issued a proclamation Friday declaring April 28-May 5 as “Days of Remembrance of Victims of the Holocaust,” and calling for “appropriate study, prayers and commemoration, and to honor the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and Nazi persecution by remembering the lessons of this atrocity so that it is never repeated.”
“During this week of solemn remembrance, we honor the six million Jewish men, women, and children who were brutally murdered by the Nazi regime,” Trump wrote in his proclamation.
“We also remember the Roma and Sinti, persons with disabilities, Poles and Slavic ethnic groups, Soviet prisoners of war, Jehovah’s Witnesses and persons who were targeted based on their sexual orientation, all of whom were targeted and killed by the Nazis and their collaborators.
“As we honor the victims of the Holocaust, we also celebrate the survivors and daring rescuers who overcame horrific injustices, endless nights of darkness, and daunting odds. Survivors of the Holocaust endured firsthand hatred and evil that sought to extinguish human life, dignity, and freedom.
“When the heroic American and Allied forces liberated them, the survivors had every right to sorrow and bitterness, but instead, they inspired all of humanity with their unbreakable spirit and the prevailing power of hope and forgiveness over horror and hatred.”