Survivors and world leaders are marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz today, but President Obama is not among them.
Obama wrapped up his India trip before flying to Riyadh to meet and dine with King Salman.
Vice President Biden is in Kentucky for the funeral of former Sen. Wendell Ford (D-Ky.).
“On the tenth International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the American people pay tribute to the six million Jews and millions of others murdered by the Nazi regime. We also honor those who survived the Shoah, while recognizing the scars and burdens that many have carried ever since,” Obama said in a statement released this morning by the White House.
“Honoring the victims and survivors begins with our renewed recognition of the value and dignity of each person. It demands from us the courage to protect the persecuted and speak out against bigotry and hatred,” he continued. “The recent terrorist attacks in Paris serve as a painful reminder of our obligation to condemn and combat rising anti-Semitism in all its forms, including the denial or trivialization of the Holocaust.”
Obama called the anniversary “an opportunity to reflect on the progress we have made confronting this terrible chapter in human history and on our continuing efforts to end genocide.”
“I have sent a presidential delegation to join Polish President Komorowski, the Polish people, official delegations from scores of nations, and many survivors, at today’s official commemoration in Poland,” he said.
That delegation was led by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and included State Department officials and two Holocaust survivors.
“As a founding member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, the United States joins the Alliance’s thirty other member nations and partners in reiterating its solemn responsibility to uphold the commitments of the 2000 Stockholm Declaration,” Obama continued. “We commemorate all of the victims of the Holocaust, pledging never to forget, and recalling the cautionary words of the author and survivor of Auschwitz Primo Levi, ‘It happened, therefore it can happen again. . . . It can happen anywhere.’ Today we come together and commit, to the millions of murdered souls and all survivors, that it must never happen again.”
Among those at Auschwitz today was director Steven Spielberg, who told CNN that he was “appalled” that on his first tour of the death camp the guide “never mentioned the word Jew… just said that ‘many innocent people had been killed here.'”
Spielberg, who has been documenting the histories of Auschwitz survivors, said at the ceremonies, “If you are a Jew today, in fact if you are any person who believes in the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom in free expression, you know that like many other groups, we are once again facing the perennial demons of intolerance.”
He noted “Facebook pages identifying Jews and their geographic locations with the intention to attack and the growing efforts to banish Jews from Europe.”
French President Francois Hollande and German Prime Minister Joachim Gauck are among about a dozen heads of state at Auschwitz today. Britain sent Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, according to the Daily Mail. Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his chief of staff.