Remarks at the Opening of the Exhibition “State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda” at United Nations Headquarters

Ambassador Michele J. Sison
U.S. Deputy Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
January 24, 2017

AS DELIVERED

Thank you so much, Cristina, Madam Under-Secretary-General. Thank you also Mr. Unger, Ms. Pauly, Dr. Luckert for being here this evening.

For me, it is truly a privilege and an honor to be with you to mark the opening of this exhibit, especially in the presence of Holocaust survivors and their families. When the late Elie Wiesel was asked about his vision for a Holocaust Museum in 1978, Wiesel at the time wrote just one sentence, “For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.”

And in the years since it opened, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has made Wiesel’s vision a reality. The museum has meticulously documented the events of the Holocaust, raising the world’s awareness of this Nazi genocide in order to prevent mass atrocities in the future.

This exhibition – which I note is just one of the traveling exhibitions of the Holocaust Museum – exemplifies the museum’s outstanding efforts to make sure the lessons of history remain relevant today. And I know we have at least one high school student in the audience – so they remain relevant for the next generation, as well. This display shows how propaganda was an integral part of Nazi Germany’s strategy to exterminate the Jewish people. The films and books and pamphlets, radio programs, newspapers and posters that the Nazis conjured up enabled Hitler’s rise to power, and systematically denigrated the Jewish people. The pernicious lies spread by the Nazi-controlled media created an environment where few would ask questions as the Nazis persecuted and segregated Jews – an environment that enabled the slaughter of six million. Now here, the Holocaust Museum shows us all how this happened; that we may be forever be on guard in the future.

This is not the first time that the Holocaust Museum has sponsored an exhibition at the UN, and the museum’s presence in this institution takes on special significance, I think. In the months to come, visitors who come to New York, come to the UN to learn about the UN’s role in building peace, along with diplomats and UN professional staff who walk down this hallway – these professionals who try to prevent conflict and promote human dignity in their daily work – all of these visitors and staff and diplomats will walk past these panels that we are seeing tonight.

And I think this exhibit has the power to make all of us stop and remember a broader imperative: that when we see evil in the world, we must speak out, and we must act. And that’s a vital lesson, rooted in the history of the Holocaust, that all of us – whether we are visiting the UN or that we come in here every day for sessions, whether we work in this building – that all of us need to remember as we discuss the challenges of the world today. It is a lesson that – because of this exhibit here – could directly affect what a staffer proposes in a memo, for example, to the new Secretary-General. Walking through this exhibit could be a lesson that could impact what a Permanent Representative – or a Deputy Permanent Representative – brings to the table in a negotiation, or what a tourist just learning about the world of international affairs, a student who happens to stop by here at the UN brings back to their community from their New York City trip.

So, on behalf of the United States Mission to the United Nations, let me again thank most sincerely all of you who have come from the Holocaust Museum and from the UN Department of Public Information for sponsoring this very, very important exhibit.

And now I will step down and turn the program over to Mr. Unger. Thank you.

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