SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Seventy-three years ago, almost to the day, April 12, 1945, General Dwight Eisenhower inspected a subcamp of the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany and said the things I saw beggar description. The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation and bestiality were so overpowering, I made the visit to give firsthand evidence if ever in the future there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to propaganda. That's why Eisenhower ordered American units in the area to see the camps and all their horror and for German civilians to be brought in, too, so men and women would know from their own eyes about the monstrous and unparalleled crimes that had been committed and could give their accounts to history for all time so we would never forget.
The U.S. and its allies fought World War II at great cost to defeat what Winston Churchill called Nazism's dark lights of perverted science. But in the post-war era, the U.S. and other nations recognized they'd also done wrong when they turned away from Nazi Germany's racial policies in the 1930s, which led to death camps, turned away so many refugees from our shores and declared along with Charles Lindbergh this is not our fight. That's why the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, which has just turned 25, was built on the National Mall, not just to never forget the terrible event but make us think of our responsibilities to keep such crimes from occurring again.
The few survivors of the Holocaust have told their stories for seven decades. I've been blessed to meet a few, and every one of them, with camp serial numbers seared onto their arms, has said the only reason they can fathom as to why they were spared is to tell the world what happened and never forget. But their numbers are running low. Over the years, the world has said it's not our fight and turned away from other genocides and mass slaughters - Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur and now perhaps Yemen and Syria.
A study conducted by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany reported this week that 41 percent of Americans and 66 percent of millennials say they don't know about the Auschwitz death camp where more than a million Jews and others, including Poles, Roma people and gays were executed. Forty-one percent of millennials believe 2 million or fewer Jews were killed in the Holocaust. It was 6 million. And 22 percent of millennials say they haven't even heard of the Holocaust.
It's hard to tell people to never forget when they haven't heard.
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