Here is the statement that U.S. President Trump made on January 27, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
The date was designated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day by the United Nations in 2005.
It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust. It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror.
Yet, we know that in the darkest hours of humanity, light shines the brightest. As we remember those who died, we are deeply grateful to those who risked their lives to save the innocent.
In the name of the perished, I pledge to do everything in my power throughout my Presidency, and my life, to ensure that the forces of evil never again defeat the powers of good. Together, we will make love and tolerance prevalent throughout the world.
People have been arguing about whether there was something sinister in the omission of the word Jews from the statement.
The White House said in response to that accusation that they intended to be inclusive and to recognise all the people who died.
I have thought about this and turned it over this way and that. It struck me that perhaps there was something in the word holocaust itself that would guide me on how to think about this. This is the Oxford English Dictionary definition of the Holocaust.
1. Destruction or slaughter on a mass scale, especially caused by fire or nuclear war:
‘a nuclear holocaust’
1.1 the Holocaust The mass murder of Jews under the German Nazi regime during the period 1941–5. More than 6 million European Jews, as well as members of other persecuted groups, were murdered at concentration camps such as Auschwitz.
2. historical A Jewish sacrificial offering which was burnt completely on an altar.
By definition the holocaust of World War II is the intended eradication of the Jewish people. Other groups were persecuted and murdered but the central target was the Jews. Roma (Gypsies) were killed because they were considered racially inferior. As I read, almost a quarter of the one million Roma in Europe were killed in the holocaust. But of the Roma there were exceptions for people of ‘pure Gypsy blood’ dating from ancient times, persons of Gypsy descent who were considered integrated into German society and therefore did not ‘behave like Gypsies,’ and persons (and their families) who had distinguished themselves in German military service.
In 1979 the West German Federal Parliament identified the Nazi persecution of Roma as being racially motivated.
Homosexuals were also murdered in the holocaust because they were considered deviant and undesirable. But it is a long step from that to seeing a racial group as an evil that must be eradicated.
The aim of the holocaust was to root out the Jews and destroy them. They were not simply deviant or racially inferior, they were seen as evil. Great energy was put into tracing them, finding them, and destroying them. If there had been no Jews in Europe, then would the camps have even been built? In remembering the holocaust, how could one not mention the Jews as the central figures around which the murder was orchestrated?