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Holocaust Survivor Al Munzer Speaks at US Capitol to Spotlight Atrocities Against Syrian Civilians

The following remarks were delivered on March 21, 2017 by Alfred Münzer at the United States Capitol as part of an event to draw attention to the ongoing threat of atrocities that Syrian civilians suffer at the hands of the Assad regime. The event was held in cooperation with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Additional speakers included Syrian survivor Qutaiba Idlbi, as well as a number of members of Congress.

Senators Corker and Cardin, Representatives Royce and Engel and distinguished guests;

I am a survivor of the Holocaust and a volunteer at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

I am here today because a Dutch Indonesian family and their Muslim nanny living in Nazi-occupied Holland risked their lives to save a nine-month old Jewish baby. My sisters were entrusted to a different family, but were denounced and killed in Auschwitz. They were six and nine. My parents too were deported and my father lies buried high in the Austrian Alps, in the former Ebensee concentration camp. My mother survived twelve concentration camps and I was reunited with her in August 1945. In 1958 she and I received visas to the United States in the hope that my mother would finally be able to leave behind the losses she had suffered.

Multiply what happened to my family a million times over to get the dimensions of the tragedy we call the Holocaust. 

But to me the greatest tragedy of the Holocaust isn’t to have grown up without a father or to have been deprived of the companionship of two older siblings, it is that while the world said “Never Again,” the Holocaust did not spell an end to prejudice and hate or mean an end to state-sponsored atrocities and mass murder. One year it is the Cambodian people persecuted by the Khmer Rouge, another it’s the Muslims in Bosnia or the Tutsis in Rwanda. And today and for the past six years it is the people of Syria who have suffered unspeakable atrocities as the world looks on.

I am here today to give voice to my sisters Eva and Leah and to the 1.5 million other children killed in the Holocaust who call out for the children burnt and maimed by bombs in Syria. Their plight must be front and center of this country’s foreign policy and the world’s attention. As in the Holocaust, inaction is to be complicit.

It is now my deep honor to introduce a survivor of Assad's torture machine, Qutaiba Idlbi.