January 27, 2017 [St. Petersburg, FL]— On Friday, January 27th, The Florida Holocaust Museum announced its 25th Anniversary as it commemorated International Holocaust Remembrance Day with a ceremony and candle lightning by students from St. Cecelia Interparochial Catholic School and Holocaust Survivors.
The United Nations determined that January 27th each year will be recognized as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It was on this date in 1945 that the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp was liberated by the Russian Army.
Prior to the ceremony, Holocaust Survivor Betty Grebenschikoff shared her powerful story with students and Museum visitors. Grebenschikoff’s peaceful childhood in Berlin, Germany, was shattered by Nazi violence against Jews when her family was forced to flee to China in 1939. Shanghai was the only open port at that time that admitted European Jews without visas or passports.
For footage of students from St. Cecelia Interparochial Catholic School and Holocaust Survivors participating in the International Holocaust Remembrance Day commemoration ceremony at The Florida Holocaust Museum, please visit the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4w73dWCkIY
Statement from Elizabeth Gelman, Executive Director of The Florida Holocaust Museum
Thank you so much for being with us today, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On January 27, 1945, the Soviet Red Army liberated the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz and the world saw, first hand, the horrors of the Holocaust.
This year, The Florida Holocaust Museum celebrates its 25th Anniversary. For 25 years, we have been able to provide a way for Holocaust Survivors and Liberators to tell their first-person narratives to students, teachers and community groups in Tampa Bay, and, more recently, thanks to the generosity of the State of Florida, to 21st century technology to bring these speakers into classrooms and community centers throughout the state of Florida and beyond.
Today, this class from St. Cecelia Interparochial Catholic School had the opportunity to hear first-hand from Holocaust Survivor, Betty Grabinchikoff, how she was able to survive the terrible brutality of the Nazi regime, a regime that used hatred and fear to achieve the unthinkable – the systematic murder of over 11 million people, 6 million of them Jews, and the suffering, slavery and imprisonment of millions and millions more.
I know that hearing these stories from Survivors and Liberators makes a difference. I see it on the faces of the students as they realize that history isn’t simply about names, dates and places. It is about human beings and the choices human beings make and the choices they themselves face each day: to stand by and say nothing or to speak up in the face of intolerance and injustice.
The most important job we have at The Florida Holocaust Museum is to preserve those stories and pass them down to future generations – through digitized testimony, through objects, through art. And, most importantly, through the students and visitors who hear these stories. You, students of St Cecelia’s, it is now up to you to pass on the true accounts of those who lived through the Holocaust.
I know that feels like a big responsibility. And it is.
Because, tragically, the hatred and intolerance that drove Hilter’s agenda is not dead. All around the world, we see evidence that those with hatred in their hearts and minds feel less and less constrained. We witness the terrible devastation that is happening in Burma, Syria, and Darfur; we witness the destructive targeting of civilians in Europe by Islamic terrorists; and we witness the increasingly racist rhetoric here in the United States.
We cannot remain silent.
Today, as we announce The Florida Holocaust Museum’s 25th Anniversary, we call on all people of good conscience to take a stand. To remember the Holocaust and the important lessons it teaches and pledge to speak out when confronted with intolerance and injustice.