Against Backdrop of Ukraine Crisis, Rise in Antisemitic Hate Crimes, “Courage to Remember” Holocaust Exhibition Opens in NYS Capitol

“Courage to Remember,” the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s 40-panel traveling exhibition on the Nazi Holocaust is on view at New York State’s capitol building from March 22-25, 2022.

Albany, NY – Against the backdrop of the horrific invasion of Ukraine and continuing anti-Semitic attacks across the U.S., New York State Senator Anna Kaplan, a leading advocate for increased Holocaust education in the state’s schools, is bringing the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s (SWC) “Courage to Remember” exhibition on the Holocaust to the State Capitol.

“Courage to Remember” is the SWC’s 40-panel traveling exhibition on the Nazi Holocaust, which has been seen on six continents by tens of millions of people and continues to be displayed in cities across the United States and across the globe. It is on view from March 22-25, 2022.

The exhibition is being brought to Albany days after the NYPD reported a 400% spike in anti-Semitic hate crimes in New York City over the month of February. The “Courage to Remember” exhibition not only serves as a memorial for the past, but also reenforces what could transpire if the evils wrought by tyrants are left unchecked.

This exhibition has additional significance amid the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. As a pretext for Russia’s invasion, President Putin has falsely weaponized the Nazi Holocaust as a ploy to invade a peaceful neighbor and unleashed one of the worst humanitarian disasters of this century. The Russian invasion has also damaged the Babi Yar Holocaust memorial, houses of worship, kindergartens, and schools. 

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, SWC’s Associate Dean & Director of Global Social Action, remarked that “these events have shed light on the dangers of Holocaust distortion, which is a rapidly growing new variant of anti-Semitism. Furthermore the ‘Courage to Remember’ exhibition reinforces the importance of Holocaust monuments which serve as an invaluable teaching tool and physical reminder of the lessons of the past.”

Rabbi Cooper will provide a tour of the exhibit along with Senator Kaplan, as well as present SWC’s endorsement of The Holocaust Education bill, S.121A/A.472A which is currently under consideration in the Legislature.

“Six million Jews and millions of others, including Gypsies, Slavs, political dissenters, homosexuals, P.O.W.’s and the mentally ill and infirm were murdered by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945. The Nazi policy of racial hatred moved with relentless cruelty from hateful propaganda to mass murder, culminating in the extermination of European Jewry and culture,” The Simon Wiesenthal Center stated.

“The magnitude of brutality, the remorseless cruelty, and the cold industrial character of mass murder during the Holocaust are unique. However, the root causes of the Holocaust persist.

“Racial hatred, economic crises, human psychological and moral flaws, the complacency or complicity of ordinary individuals in the persecution of their neighbors are still ominously common.

“Thus we must have the courage to remember and study the Holocaust, no matter how disturbing these studies and memories may be. For only informed, understanding, and morally committed individuals can prevent such persecution from happening again. The persecution of people is always and everywhere intolerable and to act against it is a beginning for hope.”

“The Courage to Remember” is both a tribute and a warning; a tribute to the six million Jews and millions of others, including Gypsies, Slavs, political dissenters, homosexuals, and prisoners of war, who were murdered by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945; and a warning that the root causes of the Holocaust persist.

The importance of teaching about the Holocaust and about the dangers of unchecked bigotry and hatred is also relevant in light of right-wing efforts to ban teaching of such “uncomfortable” subjects as slavery, the genocide of American Indians, anti-immigration movements and systemic racism. It’s a reflection that the title of the exhibit is ‘The Courage to Remember.” Why does it take “courage” to remember?

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