Remarks at the Memorial Day of the Victims of Hungarian Holocaust

Ambassador Bell delivers her remarks in the Holocaust Memorial Center. (Embassy photo)
Ambassador Bell delivers her remarks in the Holocaust Memorial Center. (Embassy photo)

Thank you, Chairman Haraszti, for the invitation to attend this event and share with you the strong support of the United States and my own deep personal commitment to the important work of Holocaust remembrance. It is our profound duty to preserve the sacred memories of the victims of this most profoundly tragic episode in the history of mankind.

Before my arrival in Budapest, I had heard so many moving things about the Solemn and Holy place where we are gathered.

Having the opportunity to visit the museum, and be with all of you here today, it is evident why the museum has deeply affected so many people, including myself.

I realized right away how vitally important this museum is, that it must be preserved and kept accessible so that everyone can have the opportunity to see what happened.  We must remember these events and learn from them so that nothing like this can ever happen again.

Hungary can be very proud of this museum, and of many other significant steps it has taken to reconcile with painful aspects of its own history and its role in the tragic events of the Holocaust.

This effort—to remember, to memorialize, and to speak the truth of what happened, honestly and openly—must never stop.

During this coming year, when Hungary assumes the Chairmanship of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, the attention of the world will be focused on Hungary’s continuing efforts to commemorate the history presented here in an honest and honorable way.

As governments, we must make sure that those most intimately connected to Holocaust issues are given a voice in decisions that affect them, and that all of our policies must be consistent with the solemn obligation we are reminded of today.

As private citizens, what we can and must show is the strength of our commitment through our actions, our discussions and the example we set.

We can all do more.  We must do more.

Because there are still voices in our society, including some within Hungary, who preach hatred and denial; who would deny Hungary’s Jewish citizens the right to have their voices heard when the subject of Hungary’s history is discussed, and who disguise their appeal to the anti-Semitic fringe elements in Hungarian society by using coded language and double-talk designed to win support at the ballot box.

We must drown out those voices, by speaking out ourselves, by condemning such hateful behavior when we see it, and by showing in our own deeds that we reject an ideology that pits Hungarians against other Hungarians, Jews against Christians.

We owe this to those who perished in this horrible crime, and to all those who will follow us as we strive to make a world free of the kind of hatred and prejudice that caused what we mourn today.

Thank you all very much.