Remarks by Ambassador Colleen Bell
at the March of the Living Wagon Exhibition
September 12, 2016
Good morning everyone. I’m so happy to have this chance to visit Nyírbátor today. Thank you to Zsuzsa and Gábor from the March of the Living, and to mayor Máté for inviting me here to see the beautiful church we toured this morning, and of course this wonderful exhibit. And I wish to give a very special thanks to János Forgács, a survivor of the Holocaust, for being here. I am honored that you are here with us today as we learn about this horrific piece of history that you lived through. Thank you, Mr. Forgács.
As I look at this exhibition, it strikes me just how powerful it is that it is on a train car. You can actually feel the history – the terror and despair – in the physical object itself, in the wooden planks in the floor, the sliding doors, and the wheels on the track. The effect is so much more than if the same exhibit were in a museum somewhere.
And it is important to have that powerful effect, especially on the children and young people who visit the wagon. It is vitally important that the events of the Holocaust do not fade from our collective memory. That’s also why we honor Mr. Forgács and the other survivors that are still with us.
The reason why it is important that we educate today’s generations about the Holocaust and do not forget is because history did not end after World War II. Hatred, intolerance, and anti-Semitism did not end with the defeat of the Nazis in 1945. We see these very things alive and well in today’s world, and a peaceful future is not a guarantee. We all have to struggle and put in the hard work every day to make that future for ourselves and our children. Education is the proven antidote to intolerance, and this exhibition is doing that hard work of educating the next generation to ensure this history is never, ever repeated. Thank you.
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