WASHINGTON — On April 9, 2018, 138 Holocaust survivors as well as supporters from around the country gathered to mark the 25th anniversary of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
During the celebration, leaders announced they would advance the Museum founders' bold vision for a "living memorial" to the victims of the Holocaust by ensuring the permanent relevance of Holocaust history for new generations, reaching global audiences, and creating more agents of change who will work to make the future better than the past.
To realize these ambitious goals, the Museum is extending its successful campaign to reach $1 billion by its 30th anniversary in 2023.
"The lessons Holocaust history teaches about the fragility of freedom, the dangers of hate, and the consequences of inaction have never been more timely," said Museum chairman Howard Lorber.
"Twenty-five years ago we aspired to reach every part of America. Today, with the rising tide of denial, antisemitism, and extremism and continued threats of genocide, our message can and must span the globe."
During the anniversary event, the Museum presented its highest honor, the Elie Wiesel Award, to all survivors for their courage and resilience and for inspiring the global movement for Holocaust remembrance and education, which the Museum leads today.
"We live in challenging times, marked by unprecedented change and uncertainty. Times like these call for trusted institutions, a strong moral compass, and new ways of thinking about our personal responsibility in advancing pluralism and social cohesion," explained Museum vice chairman Allan Holt, the son of two Holocaust survivors.
"That is our Museum and its mission."
The initial $540 million goal of the campaign Never Again: What You Do Matters, which was publicly launched at the Museum's 20th anniversary, was met 18 months ahead of schedule; to date a total of $715 million has been raised.
Donations from 356,466 supporters across the country, with gifts ranging from a few dollars to $30 million, made this possible.
Notwithstanding the campaign's success, critical unmet needs remain.
"We will not stop," said Museum director Sara Bloomfield. "Twenty-five years is only a beginning, and we are building an institution for the ages to keep Holocaust memory alive and at work in the world. Our campaign will secure the resources to ensure that the Museum can remain relevant and responsive. Not only can we do this; we must do this. We owe the survivors and victims no less."
The Museum was established as the result of a commission created in 1978 by President Jimmy Carter.
Led by Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, the commission envisioned a "living memorial" that would honor the memory of the victims by teaching the lessons of the Holocaust to new generations and by doing for victims of genocide today what was not done for the Jews of Europe.
More than 43 million people have visited the Museum-including 15 million students.
Five million have seen its traveling exhibitions in the United States and Europe, and 20 million each year rely on online resources available in 16 languages.
Through its exhibitions, educational resources, digital outreach, and wide-ranging partnerships, as well as its programs for teachers, students, and leaders, the Museum seeks to motivate individuals to not only understand the lessons of the Holocaust but to act on them.
The Museum's leadership programs for law enforcement have trained 150,000 law enforcement professionals at the federal, state, and local levels, including all recent FBI cadets.
Similar programs have been developed for members of the military, judiciary, and other professions.
The Museum has made two formal genocide determinations -in Darfur, Sudan in 2004; and in 2016, a finding of genocide perpetrated in Northern Iraq by ISIS against Yazidis and other religious minorities and crimes against humanity against Christians.
In November 2017, the Museum issued a report detailing mounting evidence of genocide committed by the Myanmar military against Rohingya civilians.
For several years, the Museum has been educating policymakers and the public about the crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Assad regime against the Syrian people.
The Never Again: What You Do Matters campaign has secured funding to double the Museum endowment; revitalize its renowned permanent exhibition; build the David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center to house the collection of record on the Holocaust; and name its core programs: The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, the Levine Family Institute for Holocaust Education, and the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide.
During the final phase of the campaign, funds raised will enable the institution to: build the fully accessible collection of record; secure the permanence and vitality of Holocaust studies; advance quality Holocaust education with a focus on emerging adults and leaders; create greater global Holocaust awareness; confront Holocaust denial and state-sponsored antisemitism; and build a global architecture aimed at preventing and responding to genocide and other mass atrocities.
About the Anniversary
The Museum is marking its 25th anniversary under the banner "Never Stop Asking Why" to inspire people to reflect on the questions raised by the Holocaust and our responsibility in society today.
The milestone year launched in January 2018 with a social media initiative #AskWhy that has sparked 675,000 engagements with our content.
During the Days of Remembrance on April 9, the conversation expands to reach leaders in technology, science, history, and policy when the Museum holds its inaugural Global Issues Forum to explore what Holocaust history can teach us about human nature.
At the 25th Anniversary National Tribute Dinner that evening, the Museum will honor all Holocaust survivors with its highest honor, the Elie Wiesel Award, for their courage and resilience and for inspiring the global movement for Holocaust remembrance and education.
On April 23, the Museum opens a groundbreaking exhibition on Americans and the Holocaust.
Five years in the making, it presents a portrait of America in the 1930s and '40s that shows what shaped Americans' responses to Nazism.
Twenty-fifth anniversary programs and events will continue throughout 2018 in communities across the nation.
About the museum
A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum inspires citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity.
Visit www.ushmm.org for more information.