May 5, 2005
LAURA BUSH TO DELIVER KEYNOTE ADDRESS AT NATIONAL HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE OBSERVANCE
Susan Eisenhower, Liberators, Survivors and Members of Congress to Join in Observance Marking 60th Anniversary of Liberation of Nazi Concentration Camps
WASHINGTON, D.C. — From Sunday, May 1, through Sunday, May 8, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum will lead the nation in week-long observances in memory of the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and the millions of others who perished under Nazi tyranny. This year’s national ceremony takes place in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on Thursday, May 5 at noon. It will commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the liberation of Nazi concentration camps by Allied and Soviet forces. Laura Bush will deliver the keynote address. Her father, Harold B. Welch, was a World War II veteran and served with the 555th Anti-Aircraft Automatic Weapons Battalion that was attached to the 104th Infantry Division, liberators of the Dora-Mittelbau concentration camp.
“Exactly sixty years ago this week, General Eisenhower’s soldiers were entering the Nazi concentration camps, confronting what no one should ever have to witness, let alone endure,” said Fred S. Zeidman, chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council. “General Eisenhower and his brave men understood their duty to be witnesses. We must understand ours. Our challenge is to be worthy heirs to their actions. Today, we honor the memory of those who perished at the hands of the Nazis and their collaborators, and the liberating soldiers who fought this singular evil.”
The annual national commemoration in the Capitol recognizes the American troops who liberated the Nazi concentration camps with a procession of flags from each liberating unit. Susan Eisenhower, granddaughter of Gen. Eisenhower, and Benjamin Meed, a Holocaust survivor, will lead the procession. More than 35 liberators from around the country are expected to attend.
To mark the anniversary, this year’s program will feature liberators along with survivors and members of Congress in the traditional candle lighting ceremony. The candle lighters are:
- Sen. and World War II veteran John Warner, Jack Tramiel and Betty Tott, widow of liberator Vernon Tott. Mr. Tott, who recently passed away, liberated Mr. Tramiel. In 2004, Mr. Tramiel had Mr. Tott’s name inscribed in the Museum’s Donor Wall.
- Rep. Jane Harman, Fritzie Fritzshall and Manfred Steinfeld. Ms. Fritzshall is an Auschwitz-Birkenau survivor and Museum volunteer who regularly speaks to audiences about her experiences. Mr. Steinfeld fled Germany in 1938 and returned to Europe as a U.S. solider. He arrested a deputy commander of Ravensbrueck who was subsequently tried and sentenced to death.
- Rep. Roy Blunt, Siegfried Halbreich, and Dr. Forest Robinson. Mr. Halbreich survived six concentration camps. A pharmacist before the war, he aided Americans in preparing Nuremberg cases. Dr. Robinson served with the 104th Infantry Division which liberated Dora-Mittelbau.
- Rep. and World War II veteran John Dingell, William Ungar and Dorothy Pecora. Mr. Ungar survived the Janovska camp and later escaped another camp aided by two Christian Poles. Ms. Pecora was an Army nurse who treated prisoners at the Penig labor camp and Ebensee concentration camp shortly after liberation.
- Rep. Mark Kirk, Adrienne Krausz, and Curtis Whiteway. Ms. Krausz, an Auschwtiz-Birkenau survivor, emigrated to the U.S. from the Soviet Union in 1961. Mr. Whiteway served in the 99th Infantry Division, liberators of Dachau subcamps.
- Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Gerald Schwab, and Louis A. Cecchini. Mr. Schwab’s family fled Nazi Germany when he was 15; he later joined the U.S. Army and saw combat in Italy. Mr. Cecchini’s Combat Team Five of the 89th Division attached to the 4th Armored Division entered Ohrdruf, the first camp to be liberated by the Western Allies, within an hour of its liberation.
Other commemorative events are being held across the country during the National Days of Remembrance.
Also, on Thursday, May 5, Museum visitors are invited to the Museum’s Hall of Remembrance to read aloud the names of Holocaust victims. Liberators, survivors and Museum staff have also been invited to participate.
Since opening to the public in April 1993, the Museum has welcomed almost 22 million visitors, including more than 7 million schoolchildren. A public-private partnership, the Museum is a federal institution whose educational activities and outreach are made possible through private donations. More than 250,000 individuals, foundations, and corporations helped build the institution and currently support its programs and operations. For more information, visit www.ushmm.org.
MEDIA: Media wishing to attend the observance should contact Andy Hollinger at 202-488-6133 or firstname.lastname@example.org. All media must be credentialed by the House or Senate Gallery. All television and radio equipment must be in place in the Rotunda by 9:45 a.m. for security sweeps.