(check against delivery)
Many thanks to you, Alison, for your introductory words.
Special thanks to you and the whole team around Kimberly Mann for making this exhibition possible.
Happy to welcome Dr. Hans-Christian Jasch, Director of the House of the Wannsee Conference Memorial and Educational Site, whose institution is behind one part of the exhibition we are opening today.
Excited to welcome Luigi Toscano, the artist of the very impressive oversized portraits on display.
Especially delighted that my longtime friend, David Harris of the American Jewish Committee, has joined us tonight.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
International Holocaust Remembrance Day is dedicated to the remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust. This day is also about Holocaust education.
As the German Representative to the UN, Holocaust remembrance and education are very close to my heart.
The joint exhibition Survivors, Victims, Perpetrators we are opening tonight is very much in line with this year’s theme of the UN´s Holocaust Remembrance events: “Holocaust Remembrance and Education: Our Shared Responsibility.”
Proud to present this collaboration between the House of the Wannsee Conference Memorial and Educational Site and the photographer Luigi Toscano.
While the panels on the House of the Wannsee Conference tell us about the perpetrators, Luigi Toscano´s portraits entitled “Lest We Forget” show us the survivors.
We hope to make a contribution to educating about the Holocaust by exposing the motives of the perpetrators, commemorating the victims and honoring the survivors of the horrific events which took place during this dark period in German history.
One part of the exhibition focuses on the Wannsee Conference and its participants and the different stages of Nazi persecution policy which led to deportations from all over Europe and to killings. It shows that almost the entire German state apparatus was involved in the Europe-wide implementation of the genocide.
And there is also a section on the educational work of the House of the Wannsee Conference - we need to thoroughly understand who the perpetrators were, their motives and actions.
The other part of the exhibition – portraits of Holocaust survivors - illustrates the human dimension of suffering behind the bleak statistics. When entering the UN premises, portraits of survivors from all over the world – U.S., Israel, Germany, Ukraine and Russia – accompany you on your way in.
These photos were taken by the German-Italian photographer Luigi Toscano over the past two years. In them, you see the faces of people whose lives were affected in the utmost horrifying way. These large photos, together, give history a face and tell their individual stories. They are a constant reminder to remember these tragic events and to never repeat them.
Especially from a German perspective, we know about the responsibility to keep this memory alive. I am confident that even when the last generation of survivors is no longer with us, photographs like these will help us in this aim.
Susan Cernyak-Spatz, one of the survivors featured in this exhibit, shared a quote with us that gets to the very heart of it: "If we forget the past, we are condemned to repeat it."