January 22, 2018
UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM’S ‘NEVER STOP ASKING WHY’ INITIATIVE LAUNCHES GLOBAL ONLINE CONVERSATION ON LESSONS OF THE HOLOCAUST
Museum’s New Engagement Initiative Features Holocaust Survivors, Educators and Students, Athletes, Military and Law Enforcement;
Encourages the Public to Explore the Relevance of Holocaust History
WASHINGTON, DC – Since opening its doors 25 years ago, 43 million visitors from around the world have visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum on the National Mall to learn about the Holocaust, remember its victims, and reflect on what Holocaust history continues to teach us. Now, as the Museum looks ahead to the next 25 years, it is launching a new global engagement initiative, Never Stop Asking Why, aiming to inspire individuals and new generations to join an online conversation about the important questions that Holocaust history raises and what they mean for people and societies today.
“At its dedication, the Museum’s Founding Chairman Elie Wiesel said the Museum is a question, not an answer,” noted Museum Director Sara J. Bloomfield. “The Holocaust asks us to consider difficult questions about human nature, our susceptibility to hate and propaganda, and the fragility of societies. With this new initiative, we are asking Americans and people around the globe to join a conversation about what questions Holocaust history raises for them and to understand the past as a way to help them think differently about their role shaping the future.”
To start the conversation, the Museum is sharing videos featuring Holocaust survivors, former NBA player and Museum Council Member Ray Allen, educators, members of the military and law enforcement, and many others asking questions, which can be found at ushmm.org/askwhy. To join the Never Stop Asking Why conversation, people can ask the questions that Holocaust history raises for them on their social media channels. Tag the Museum on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram (@holocaustmuseum) using the hashtag #AskWhy.
“The question that still haunts me is why the world allowed the Holocaust to happen,” reflected Holocaust survivor Alfred Munzer, whose two sisters and father were murdered in Auschwitz. An infant when his parents asked a Dutch Indonesian family to hide him during the Nazi roundups, the courage of the family to put their lives at risk saved his. “I want people to know that even when they are surrounded by evil, they can do the right thing. But learning the lessons starts with asking the questions,” he says in his Never Stop Asking Why video.
Every year, hundreds of new recruits and seasoned leaders in the military and law enforcement, members of the clergy, students and educators, leaders in government, and others participate in Museum-led trainings - and the questions these leaders asked about Holocaust history have inspired change in themselves and their communities.
- When former Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Chief and Commissioner of the Philadelphia Police Department Charles Ramsey visited the Museum, he asked why were there so many ordinary German police officers working with Nazi officials? His response to the complicity of law enforcement in Nazi Germany was to work with the Museum and Anti-Defamation League to create a training program, “Law Enforcement and Society: Lessons of the Holocaust,” which to date has trained more than 130,000 law enforcement officers from around the world including all FBI cadets.
- Mandy, a student from Iowa, said she thought she would learn about history at the Museum but instead she learned about humanity. Many of the Museum’s visitors, including more than 10 million school children who have visited, ask why so many people were silent during the Holocaust and how people could have ignored the plight of their friends and neighbors. Museum-trained educators are bringing quality Holocaust education into classrooms in all 50 states.
- Sheila Polk, a Yavapai (AZ) County attorney, asked why learning about this history was relevant to her work as a prosecutor. During her training at the Museum, she began to understand how Germany’s legal profession became complicit in the persecution of Jews and others and that it had a great deal to do with her profession. Inspired, she mandated the training in Holocaust history for all prosecutors in her office and then led an effort that resulted in Museum training for all Arizona prosecutors. The Museum has trained members of the judiciary in all 50 states since 2009.
“Holocaust education should stimulate self-reflection and provoke hard and important questions about ourselves and our world,” said Bloomfield. “Never Stop Asking Why invites people everywhere and of all ages to engage with Holocaust history and join this important conversation about what makes societies strong.’’
About the Museum’s 25th anniversary
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is kicking off its 25th anniversary in 2018 by inspiring people to reflect on Holocaust history and to ‘Never Stop Asking Why.’ Since its founding, the Museum has grown from a major national institution into a respected global enterprise leading the cause of Holocaust remembrance and education. During Days of Remembrance, the Museum will honor all survivors for their courage and resilience with the Elie Wiesel Award, the Museum’s highest honor. This spring it will launch a groundbreaking exhibition and initiative on Americans and the Holocaust— the latest example of its 25-year legacy of exploring the complex questions Holocaust history raises in an effort to stimulate people to think about their roles and responsibilities in society.
About the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum inspires leaders and citizens to confront hate, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity. Its far-reaching educational programs and global impact are made possible by generous donors. For more information, visit ushmm.org.
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