Photo Courtesy of the Office of the Governor
“Every single New Yorker must learn the lesson of Auschwitz, so that we never allow such hatred to rise again,” Gov. Cuomo said on Monday in Poland.
By Michael V. Cusenza
Governor Andrew Cuomo joined world leaders in Poland on Monday to help commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau.
He was the only U.S. elected official to attend the remembrance ceremonies.
Cuomo toured Auschwitz-Birkenau and saw the camp’s barracks. He laid stones from the State Capitol in Albany on the track trains tracks leading into Auschwitz—a symbol of the State’s pledge to never forget the atrocities of the Holocaust, the governor said.
According to the administration, the mementos and tokens from Auschwitz survivors and from State elected officials and Jewish community leaders that were brought on the trip were given to the Izaak Synagogue in Kraków.
In Poland, Cuomo also met with Holocaust survivors and their descendants from New York and all over the world. During this experience, Cuomo said, he “recommitted” to fighting anti-Semitism in all its forms with actions that include passing a first-in-the-nation domestic terrorism law, enacting a diversity curriculum for schools, and expanding the Museum of Jewish Heritage.
On Sunday, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Cuomo announced an international conference will be held this May in New York that will build on the work the State has done to help recover property stolen in the course of Nazi prosecution. The colloquium, hosted by the Department of Financial Services’ Holocaust Claims Processing Office, will be aimed at improving the State’s ability to help recover works of art and other property lost due to Nazi persecution and will include presentations and panel-led discussions between claimant representatives, attorneys, members of the art trade, professionals from cultural institutions, provenance researchers, historians and art historians, Cuomo noted. The conference will coincide with the 75th anniversary of V-E Day, May 7-8, 2020, and be held in NYC.
Since its inception, HCPO has facilitated the restitution of over $178 million in bank accounts, insurance policies, and other material losses and the resolution of cases involving more than 160 works of art.
“Words alone fail to describe the experience of visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau and being there together with Holocaust survivors. Auschwitz was an unimaginable hell come to life, and it is now a symbol of what the Jewish people have endured and what this world allowed to transpire,” Cuomo said. “During this visit I met survivors and heard their stories of pain and suffering. I stood on the ground where millions of Jews and countless others were tortured and killed. But I also learned of the hope and resilience of the Jewish people. Every single New Yorker must learn the lesson of Auschwitz, so that we never allow such hatred to rise again. New York will be the state that continues to tell these stories to ensure this horrific stain on our history is never repeated. Particularly at a time of rising anti-Semitism, we must stand strong and united and fight hatred in all its forms. We will always stand united with our Jewish community, and we will never allow the world to fail the Jewish community again.”