Netanyahu Dedicates New Auschwitz Exhibit

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on Thursday during the dedication of a new exhibit at former Nazi death camp Auschwitz.

The new exhibit will educate visitors about the Holocaust and the Nazi agenda to exterminate Jews. Auschwitz, along with the adjacent Birkenau, was the most notorious of a system of death and labor camps Nazi Germany built and operated during World War II.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau complex memorial to Jewish victims was created during the Communist era. But it sat ignored for decades as the exhibits and artifacts became dilapidated.

While the complex’s key artifacts went missing, the history presented in the exhibits and memorial was inaccurate and dominated with Soviet propaganda. It needed a change.

Plans to redesign the memorial were made in 2005 by then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. And on Thursday, Netanyahu joined Polish dignitaries, as well as a handful of Holocaust survivors, to dedicate the permanent exhibit in Block 27, called “Shoah.” During his speech, Netanyahu stated:

“I am standing here today with great pain and great pride. The leaders of the Allies knew full well what was happening in the death camps. They could have acted, but they didn’t. We, the Jews, know exactly what the lesson is.”

Netanyahu’s speech, according to many, was largely defiant. While the prime minister asserted that Israel will make sure no one forgets the Holocaust happened, he added that the country learned it cannot rely on any other country to protect it.

He alluded to Iran when he added that the anti-Semitism of the Nazi Germany era has been replaced with religious fanaticism of modern times. Netanyahu went on to say:

“This is a regime that is building nuclear weapons with the expressed purpose to annihilate Israel’s 6 million Jews. We will not allow this to happen. We will never allow another Holocaust.”

He also alluded to Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has several times questioned the true extent of the Holocaust, when he stated:

“We must not be complacent in the face of threats of annihilation. We must not bury our heads in the sand or allow others to do the work for us. If there are Holocaust deniers, have them come to Block 27 and go over one name at a time.”

The new Auschwitz exhibition was curated by Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial. Its goal is to provide the background of the Holocaust, as well as Nazi Germany’s ideology for murder. It also includes survivor testimonies and drawings by some of the children who were killed in the attempted extermination of the Jews.

Do you think that Netanyahu’s speech at the Auschwitz exhibit dedication was defiant, or was it appropriate for the situation?

[Image via Nick1915]