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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: April 17, 2017 09:46 AM
From: Representative Dan Frankel and Rep. Aaron D. Kaufer, Rep. Robert Freeman, Rep. Michael H. Schlossberg, Rep. Aaron Bernstine, Rep. Jared G. Solomon
To: All House members
Subject: Holocaust Remembrance Week and Day 2017
In the very near future, we will introduce a resolution proclaiming the week of April 23 through 30, 2017, as "Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust" and April 24, 2017, as “Holocaust Remembrance Day” in the Commonwealth. As in years past, it is our sincere hope you will join us in this important effort.

The Holocaust was one of the darkest chapters in human history. The word “Holocaust” is Greek in origin and means “sacrifice by fire.” To the Nazis, Jewish men, women and children were deemed “inferior” and a threat to society.

The Nazi’s suspension of basic civil rights happened within days of Hitler’s accession to power in January 1933. Laws using a template called the “Aryan Paragraph” were passed to deprive Jews of their government jobs and their place in civil society starting in April 1933. In 1935, the Nuremberg Laws removed voting and political rights and banned intermarriage, among numerous other civil rights attacks. In all, during the first six years of Adolph Hitler's dictatorship in Germany, from 1933 until the outbreak of war in 1939, Jews felt the effects of more than 400 decrees and regulations that restricted all aspects of their public and private lives.

By the time Germany invaded Poland in 1939, there were six concentration camps under Nazi authority, with more on the way. In 1941, the first death camp opened in Poland. The atrocities of this time period cannot be downplayed. In 1933, the Jewish population of Europe stood at more than nine million. By 1945, the Nazis and their collaborators killed nearly two out of every three European Jews as part of their "Final Solution.”

Nazis also targeted other minority groups deemed inferior including Soviet prisoners of war, gay men and women, Jehovah’s Witnesses, mentally and physically disabled individuals, Communists, and trade unionists. Soldiers of ours who were perceived to be of Jewish faith, some from Pennsylvania’s 28th division, were also targeted, separated from their fellow POW’s and sent to Berga, a subsidiary of the Buchenwald Concentration Camp, which was reported to have the highest American POW mortality rate in Europe.

Not surprisingly, the horrors of this time continue to have an impact on our lives and the world in which we live. As Americans, we must be fully on guard against any acts of perceived genocide, hate or discrimination. By continuing to call attention to the horrible atrocities committed by the Nazis during World War II, we can hopefully fulfil the promise of “never again.”

Introduced as HR267