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Museum National Tribute Event Celebrates Partnership
and Charts Bold Vision for Next 30 Years
Keynote Address by America’s Most Distinguished Documentarian
Ken Burns as Museum Celebrates Historic Campaign
WASHINGTON, DC – On April 20, 2023, at the Museum’s 30th Anniversary National Tribute Event, Holocaust survivors, Museum supporters, and partners from around the world gathered to recognize the Museum’s accomplishments and rededicate themselves to protecting the truth of the Holocaust and ensuring its relevance for new generations.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum opened its doors 30 years ago in an unprecedented public-private partnership with Holocaust survivors, the U.S. government, the American people, and committed philanthropists. Three decades later, as the survivors and eyewitnesses diminish in number, the world is changing in ways they could scarcely have imagined as antisemitism, Holocaust denial, and racism are on the rise.
“The Museum’s next chapter is so important because everywhere we look, we are deeply alarmed by so many disturbing trends — the egregious misuse of the Holocaust, including by Putin as a pretext for his invasion of Ukraine; with Russia's own war crimes and crimes against humanity in pursuing its war against Ukraine; the blatant Holocaust distortions spread on social media and denial in so many places; and the shocking mainstreaming of antisemitism here in our very own country,” said Museum chairman Stuart E. Eizenstat. “The Museum’s founders built this institution exactly for moments like this.”
During the anniversary event, the Museum presented its highest honor, the Elie Wiesel Award, to all of its many U.S. and international partners who have been key to extending the Museum’s reach beyond its walls into communities across the nation and around the world.
“Institutions alone can’t change the world. From our founding, the power of partnership has been central to our ability to bring the history and lessons of the Holocaust to people from all walks of life. Our partners share our conviction that the Holocaust is a story of humanity. It shows us who we have been and challenges us to be more,” said Sara J. Bloomfield, Museum director.
The celebration of the success of the Museum’s Never Again: What You Do Matters fundraising campaign during the event served as a rallying call to action for the 1,600 attendees. In 2013, the Museum publicly launched the campaign to transform the Museum into a 21st century global enterprise. It has exceeded its goal, raising more than $1.1 billion from more than 534,000 individuals. Some 96 percent of campaign donors are members who gave between $25 and $1,000 and represent all 50 states.
“The enormous outpouring of support for this campaign — for the cause of Holocaust memory — is something to be celebrated,” said Allan M. Holt, Museum vice chairman. “But this campaign is not an ending; it is a beginning. The Museum’s founding father, Elie Wiesel, famously cautioned us that ‘we should never think that it’s finished.’ In our troubled world, the lessons the Holocaust teaches, about the dangers of unchecked antisemitism and racism and the consequences of indifference, are more urgently needed than ever.”
The historic campaign more than tripled the Museum’s endowment, with lead gifts for the William Levine Family Institute for Holocaust Education, the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, the David M. Rubenstein National Institute for Holocaust Documentation, and the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide. The campaign also extended the Museum's physical campus, with the new, state-of-the-art David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center, the home of the Collection of Record on the Holocaust.
The National Tribute Dinner was chaired by Washington D.C.-area leaders Karen and Bruce Levenson and Carolyn and Bill Wolfe. Through their leadership, the event raised a record-breaking $41 million toward the Museum’s new Beyond Our Walls Fund. Thirty-five families stepped forward to join the Levensons and Wolfes as Beyond Our Walls Builders, with gifts of $1 million each to launch the effort, which will help accelerate the Museum’s vision to build the field of Holocaust education across the United States.
America’s most distinguished documentary filmmaker, Ken Burns, was the keynote speaker. His recent film, The U.S. and the Holocaust, was inspired by the Museum’s exhibition Americans and the Holocaust, which, in partnership with the American Library Association, is currently touring 50 public and college campus libraries nationwide. Museum partners Charles Ramsey and James Brewster added their voices to the power of partnership with the Museum. Ramsey, formerly chief of the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., worked with the Museum in 1999 to create a leadership development program for law enforcement that has since trained more than 158,000 officers nationwide. Brewster, a high school teacher from Austin, Texas, is one of more than 420 Museum Teacher Fellows, representing 49 states, the District of Columbia, and 11 countries, trained since the program began in 1996. Auschwitz survivor and Museum volunteer Irene Weiss, opened the evening with a call to action to keep Holocaust memory alive. Singer, songwriter, and social media influencer Montana Tucker, who is using her platform to raise awareness of the Holocaust and the dangers of antisemitism, led the audience in a closing pledge to the future to educate new generations.
A nonpartisan federal institution, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is America’s national memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, dedicated to ensuring the permanence of Holocaust memory, understanding, and relevance. Through the power of Holocaust history, the Museum challenges leaders and individuals worldwide to think critically about their role in society and to confront antisemitism and other forms of hate, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity. For more information, visit ushmm.org.