This year, we mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the conclusion of World War II and the ending of the Holocaust. Year after year, communities around the world come together to commemorate the lives of more than 6 million Jewish victims and millions of other victims of the Holocaust while vowing to stop future genocides from happening again.
Yet 75 years after the terrible atrocities of the Holocaust, we continue to witness an alarming rise in Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism, threats of genocide around the globe, and toleration of unchecked hatred.
Just in recent weeks, we’ve seen anti-Semitic attacks instill fear in communities nationwide after waves of violent attacks took place in New York and New Jersey. In addition, there has been a growth in memberships within far-right extremist groups along with participation in hate crimes. And in our own state of Pennsylvania, we must never forget the horrific shooting at the Tree of Life building that claimed 11 lives just over a year ago, and ensure that no similar tragedy strikes the Commonwealth again. We should all be appalled by this epidemic of violence.
Now, more than ever, we need to reinforce our words with action when we say never again. We can start by ensuring that future generations will never forget about the dangers of extremism and discrimination that defined the Holocaust.
In January, the Pew Research Center released a new study revealing that half of its 13,000 participants did not know the basic facts regarding Nazism and the Holocaust. It is alarming that only 38% of teens knew how many Jewish people died, and 43% of all participants falsely thought that Adolf Hitler became the German chancellor “by democratic political process.” This is deeply troubling, and it should not go unaddressed.
As a Pennsylvania state legislator and a member of Congress, I have fought hard to make sure we would never allow time or distance to diminish the horrors that happened 75 years ago. I believe it is our collective duty to keep these lessons at the forefront of our global memory. That’s why I spearheaded legislation as a state legislator to ensure Holocaust education would be included in all Pennsylvania schools — making it the sixth state at the time to do so. Now, as a member of Congress, I have continued that mission to teach the next generation to never forget the Holocaust by introducing a bill that encourages schools nationwide to include Holocaust education in their curricula. Furthermore, last month, the House of Representatives successfully passed the Never Again Education Act, of which I am an original co-sponsor, to reaffirm our bipartisan pledge to keep alive the memory of the Shoah. I’m proud to support this bill because it will help increase education programs on the Holocaust and the availability of resources for educators.
Expanding education about the Holocaust and genocide has been, and continues to be, a priority for me. As of July 2019, there were only 12 states that require public schools to include the Holocaust in lesson plans. That means an overwhelming majority of students in our school systems graduate without being exposed to the Holocaust in the classroom. We have a duty to change this. Learning about the horrific consequences of hatred and bigotry is our best defense to ensuring those vile acts are never repeated.
We must stand united against anti-Semitism and protect the Jewish community at home and abroad. Nothing can justify anti-Semitism. In Congress, I will continue to speak out and amplify the need for education on the Holocaust at every opportunity. But, as Americans, this is a call for action to strengthen our efforts to do our part in educating future generations about the consequences of unchallenged hatred. There is so much more to be done, and I ask you to join me in this fight. pjc
Rep. Brendan Boyle represents Pennsylvania’s 2nd District.