December 10, 2002
UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM LEADER HAS AUDIENCE WITH POPE
WASHINGTON, DC — Miles Lerman, Chairman Emeritus of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum recently had an audience with Pope John Paul II at the Vatican. Mr. Lerman, a Holocaust survivor and partisan fighter in Nazi–occupied Poland, was joined by his wife Chris, two Polish diplomats stationed in the United States and three members of the American Center for Polish Culture. An electronic photograph of the meeting is available via e-mail.
The meeting focused on 3 issues: joint U.S.–Polish efforts to preserve the site of the former Nazi death camp at Belzec in eastern Poland, the December 10 commemoration at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum of Zegota, and the Museum’s upcoming 10th Anniversary.
Mr. Lerman told the Pope that the American Jewish Committee and the Polish government were working together to ensure that the memory of the approximately 600,000 Jews murdered at Belzec would be appropriately commemorated. Because December 2002 marked the 60th Anniversary of the founding of the Polish underground Council to Aid Jews—Zegota, the Museum held a special program honoring former Polish Foreign Minister Wladislaw Bartoszewski and Zegota would be honored. Lerman also told the Pope that the Museum was celebrating its 10th Anniversary in 2003, an important milestone for Holocaust education, remembrance and research. He then presented the Pope with English and Spanish–language copies of “The Holocaust: A Teaching Guide for Catholic Schools.” The book, written by Daniel Napolitano, a Museum educator, is used in Catholic schools in the United States and other countries.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is America’s national institution for the documentation, study and interpretation of Holocaust history, and serves as this country’s memorial to the millions of people murdered during the Holocaust. Since opening in April 1993, the Museum has welcomed more than 18.7 million visitors. The Museum’s primary mission is to advance and disseminate knowledge about this unprecedented tragedy; to preserve the memory of those who suffered; and to encourage its visitors to reflect upon the moral questions raised by the events of the Holocaust as well as their own responsibilities as citizens of a democracy.