Excerpts from a speech by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger at Yom
Hashoah Ve'Hagvurah Community Wide Holocaust Remembrance Day at Pan
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger speaking at the Holocaust Remembrance Day program. Photo by Robert Lurie
Well, thank you very much, Jona, for the wonderful introduction; I really
appreciate that. And thank you very much, all of you, for being here today on
this wonderful occasion. First of all, I want to say thank you to Jona for all the
great work that you are doing, it's really extraordinary.
A totally selfless man, always thinks about what he can do for this wonderful
monument here, an endless amount of work.
So anyway, I just want to say thank you also, everyone, for being here today
on this special day of Yom HaShoah. Of course for me it is a great pleasure to
be invited again, and to be invited to say a few words here, and it is always
great, and such a great honor, to spend time with so many brave Holocaust
survivors that are here today with their families and with their friends.
Now, this monument is a reminder of the tragic and terrible destruction of
the Holocaust. Its symbols help us to remember the 6 million Jews who were
murdered, and the inhumane conditions they suffered at the hands of the
Nazis. Its images also give us the power to teach and to educate our children
so that they may not have to endure the terrors that we have seen in our
As you know, I was born in Austria, a country that I love, but a country with a
horrible history, a place where intolerance and ignorance led to the atrocities
and to murder. My mother told me many stories about the horrors of the
Holocaust. She was working as a young secretary in Austria during that time.
She told me that after the Anschluss how she went one day to work and saw
in the morning bodies lying there on the side of the road, shot to death
because they were Jews. Another time she saw bodies hang from the trees in
our state park.
There are so many parents who would tell stories and who could tell stories
even more terrible to their children, and so many more who were silenced
before they could bear witness to what they had seen, and still more that
were forced to endure the pain of never, ever to be able to see their children
again. That is why monuments like this one here are so important. They are
Now, this one was dedicated 15 years ago with the hope that such terrible
acts were behind us, confined to tragic memories in the darkest chapter of
But the sad story is that in this last 15 years the death toll from genocide has
been staggering. We all know the thousands of people that were killed in
former Yugoslavia. We know the 800,000 that were murdered in Rwanda, and
the 200,000 that were killed in Darfur, and the numbers are growing every
So on this day of Yom HaShoah let us remember the 8 [sic] million Jews and
the millions of other people who were killed during the Holocaust.
Let us also remember the endless amount of people that were killed just
recently in genocides. Let us pray that those murders will stop. Let us pray.
And above all, let us not say that we could have done more to stop the acts of
genocide that we see today, and those that we will see in the future.
Today we must stand up and speak out against all of those who would
commit those atrocities, and then we can hope that for one day that Darfur is
known as the last human genocide to disgrace our world.
And this is why I am so happy to be here today. I'm happy to be here not only
to give a speech and to be part of this celebration, but also to send a clear
message to our new generation that what has been done in the past was so
wrong, and they should work so hard on tolerance and inclusion, and to fight
prejudice wherever they can.
And this is the reason why I got involved when Simon Wiesenthal himself and
Rabbi Hier, Rabbi May and Rabbi Cooper came to me more than 20 years ago
and asked me if I wanted to help to raise money to build the Simon
Wiesenthal Center of Tolerance.
And I was involved with that and raised a lot of money and helped in every
way I could. And that's why I also agreed to go to Israel for the
groundbreaking ceremony for the Tolerance Museum. And it was actually --
which became my first trip outside this country after I became governor of
the state of the California.
I think that Eli Wiesel, a voice from the Holocaust, said it best. "I swore never
to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and
humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, not
the victims. Silence encourages the tormentor, not the tormented."
Thank you very much. Thank you.