US Museum Clarifies Definition of Holocaust After Trump’s Remarks

The museum's words ring painfully true today.

A volunteer reads names during the annual Names Reading ceremony to commemorate those who perished in the Holocaust, in the Hall of Remembrance at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The US Holocaust Museum, located in Washington, D.C., has issued a statement yesterday clearly defining the Holocaust so as to curtail any further confusion following President Trump’s vague remarks—which did not mention Jews or Nazi anti-semitism—on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“The Holocaust was the systematic, state-sponsored murder of six million Jews by Nazi Germany and its collaborators … Nazi ideology cast the world as a racial struggle, and the singular focus on the total destruction of every Jewish person was at its racist core,” the statement reads.

“Millions of other innocent civilians were persecuted and murdered by the Nazis, but the elimination of Jews was central to Nazi policy. As Elie Wiesel said, ‘Not all victims were Jews, but all Jews were victims.'”

Trump’s statement was met with much controversy after it failed to recognize the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, instead intentionally remaining broad to include other non-Jewish victims.

However, the backlash has been swift and heated. Senator Tim Kaine called it “Holocaust denial” on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday. The rabbi who offered prayer at the inauguration described the statement as “dangerous,” according to CNN, and elaborated, “Of course there were many victims who were non-Jews. But the principal objective of Adolf Hitler was to do away with Europe’s Jews.”

The museum’s statement also comes at a particularly charged time, amid protests regarding Trump’s executive order to ban immigration from seven Muslim majority countries. Thus, while the statement did not explicitly reference Trump, the words still ring painfully true and relevant.

“The Holocaust teaches us profound truths about human societies and our capacity for evil. An accurate understanding of this history is critical if we are to learn its lessons and honor its victims.”

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