Ambassador’s Remarks at the Opening of the Holocaust Education Seminar
June 13, 2011
Ladies and gentlemen, honored guests. I am pleased to welcome you today to the second of our three education seminars on "European Holocaust History, Human Rights and Tolerance Today." As many of you know, our first seminar took place in Vilnius last November, and our third seminar will take place in Klaipeda in January 2012.
Once again, I would like first to thank the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and in particular Mr. Stephen Feinberg, for the outstanding contributions to the development of this seminar. In addition, this project would not be possible without the generous financial support from the International Task Force on Holocaust Education and the U.S. State Department. The Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum, under the direction of Mr. Markas Zingeris, has been an extraordinary partner in this effort, and I thank them for all their hard work in working with the Embassy to organize these seminars. Finally, I'd like to acknowledge the kind support and cooperation from the Lithuanian Ministry of Education and Science, and the International Commission on the Evaluation of Nazi and Soviet Crimes. We will continue to work with you and partner with you in furtherance of our common goals: to educate and inform Lithuanian teachers and the public about the horrors of the Holocaust.
I would also like to thank all the lecturers and facilitators, some from very far away, who have generously contributed their time and great expertise to support this important initiative.
But most of all, I would like to thank the teacher-trainers who have voluntarily chosen to take a week of valuable time from busy academic schedules to expand their expertise in the teaching of European Holocaust history and its implications for human rights and tolerance today. I am very grateful to the deans of Vytautas Magnus University and Rector Lydeka for supporting this project so willingly and wholeheartedly. The commitment you are showing by your presence here this week is so important in order to promote the core values that are essential to democratic societies: tolerance, and respect for the human rights of all people.
We are all here today because we know that we have a responsibility, as citizens of free, democratic nations, to defend and advance these shared human values. Our history is littered with failures to do so, and there is no better example --- no more tragic, catastrophic example -- than the Holocaust, a calculated, state-sponsored campaign to murder an entire people. This ideology of hate resulted in the deaths of about 60 million people, Jewish and non-Jewish.
Why and how did the Holocaust happen? What, and how, can we teach our future leaders and citizens to ensure it never happens again? These are the central questions of this series of seminars. I hope you will find the coming week valuable and enlightening.
I wish you all great success, and thank you again for your commitment to this project. Have a good and interesting seminar!