[Congressional Record Volume 151, Number 12 (Tuesday, February 8, 2005)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E169-E170]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                              DEATH CAMPS


                            HON. TOM LANTOS

                             of california

                    in the house of representatives

                       Tuesday, February 8, 2005

  Mr. LANTOS. Mr. Speaker, on January 24 of this year, the United 
Nations General Assembly commemorated the 60th anniversary of the 
liberation of Nazi death camps. January 27, 1945, was the date on which 
Russian troops liberated Auschwitz, the most notorious of the death 
camps, and the symbol of the Holocaust, in which over 6 million Jews 
and hundreds of thousands of other nationalities were brutally murdered 
during World War II.
  The United States was ably represented by Paul Wolfowitz, our Deputy 
Secretary of Defense who addressed the General Assembly on behalf of 
the United States and the American people.
  Mr. Speaker, I ask that the outstanding statement of Secretary 
Wolfowitz be placed in the Congressional Record. He addressed ``the 
larger meaning'' of the Special Session noting: ``We are here to 
reflect on . . . how totalitarian evil claimed millions of precious 
lives. But just as important, the member nations attending today are 
affirming their rejection of such evil and making a statement of hope 
for a more civilized future, a hope that `never again' will the world 
look the other way in the face of such evil.'' I urge my colleagues to 
read Secretary Wolfowitz' thoughtful remarks:

       Thank you, Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General, 
     distinguished delegates, distinguished guests.
       Thank you, Mr. President for convening this 28th Special 
     Session and thank you to the member states that supported the 
     request for commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the 
     liberation of the Nazi death camps.
       Thank you Mr. Secretary General for your eloquent statement 
     today and for your encouragement of this initiative.
       Thank you, Sir Brian Urquhart for your service in the war 
     and your witness here today.
       And our special gratitude goes to Elie Wiesel, not only for 
     his inspiring words today, but for all he has taught us with 
     his life. Elie Wiesel has taught us that ``in extreme 
     situations when human lives and dignity are at stake, 
     neutrality is a sin. It helps the killers,'' he says, ``not 
     the victims.''
       Elie Wiesel teaches us that we must speak about unspeakable 
     deeds, so that they will be neither forgotten nor repeated. 
     Most of all, he offers personal witness to all humanity that 
     in the face of the most horrific oppression, there is always 
     hope that the goodness of the human spirit will prevail.
       That is the larger meaning of why we gather here today. 
     We're here to reflect on the magnitude of the occasion how 
     totalitarian evil claimed millions of precious lives. But 
     just as important, the member nations attending today are 
     affirming their rejection of such evil and making a statement 
     of hope

[[Page E170]]

     for a more civilized future, a hope that ``never again'' will 
     the world look the other way in the face of such evil.
       For if there is one thing the world has learned, it is that 
     peaceful nations cannot close their eyes or sit idly by in 
     the face of genocide. It took a war, the most terrible war in 
     history, to end the horrors that we remember today. It was a 
     war that Winston Churchill called ``The Unnecessary War'' 
     because he believed that a firm and concerted policy by the 
     peaceful nations of the world could have stopped Hitler early 
     on. But it was a war that became necessary to save the world 
     from what he correctly called ``the abyss of a new dark age, 
     made more sinister . . . by the lights of a perverted 
       This truth we also know--that war, even a just and noble 
     war, is horrible for everyone it touches. War is not 
     something Americans seek, nor something we will ever grow to 
     like. Throughout our history, we have waged it reluctantly, 
     but we have pursued it as a duty when it was necessary.
       Our own Civil War was one of the bloodiest the world had 
     known up to its time. And it too was fought to end a great 
     evil. As that war was nearing its bloody close, President 
     Abraham Lincoln spoke to the nation hoping that the war would 
     end soon, but saying that it would continue if necessary 
     ``until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be 
     paid by another drawn with the sword.''
       Two months after the Battle of Antietam, where the number 
     of American dead was four times the number that fell on the 
     beaches of Normandy, President Lincoln told members of the 
     U.S. Congress that those who ``hold the power, and bear the 
     responsibility'' could not escape the burden of history, ``We 
     shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of 
       Americans have fought often to liberate others from slavery 
     and tyranny in order to protect our own freedom. Cemeteries 
     from France to North Africa, with their rows of Christian 
     crosses and Stars of David, attest to that truth.
       When Americans have taken up arms, it was believing that, 
     in the end, it is never just about us alone, knowing that 
     woven into our liberty is a mantle of responsibility, knowing 
     that the whole world benefits when people are free to realize 
     their dreams and develop their talents.
       Today, we remember the people who fell victim to tyranny 
     because of their political views, their heritage or their 
     religion, in places where human slaughter was perfected as an 
     efficient and systematic industry of state. We can only 
     imagine how different our lives would be had those millions 
     of lost souls had the chance to live out their dreams.
       Today, we also pay tribute to all the soldiers of many 
     Allied nations who participated in the liberation of the Nazi 
     death camps, for their courage and sacrifice and for the care 
     they provided to the survivors.
       We are proud of the role of our own American soldiers, the 
     so-called ``young old men'' of 19 and 20 years of age, who 
     fought through their own horrors at Anzio and Normandy and 
     Bastogne and who thought that a world of evil no longer held 
     surprises for them, but who were astonished to the deepest 
     part of their souls when they confronted the human ruins of 
     Nazi tyranny in the spring of 1945.
       Just one week before the end of the war in Europe, the U.S. 
     Seventh Army would reach Dachau. Lt. Colonel Walther Fellenz 
     described what he saw as the 42nd Infantry Division neared 
     the main gate of that concentration camp, it was ``a mass of 
     cheering, half-mad men, women and children . . . their 
     liberators had come! The noise was beyond comprehension,'' he 
     said. And ``our hearts wept as we saw the tears of happiness 
     fall from their cheeks.''
       Sensing the approach of victory, General Dwight Eisenhower, 
     the Supreme Commander, was unprepared for what greeted him at 
     the camp at Ohrdruf as he walked past thousands of corpses in 
     shallow graves and saw the instruments of torture used by the 
     SS, he was moved to anger and to action.
       He cabled Army Chief of Staff George Marshall words which 
     are now engraved at the entrance of the U.S. Holocaust Museum 
     in Washington, D.C.: ``The things I saw,'' Eisenhower wrote, 
     ``beggar description . . . the visual evidence and the verbal 
     testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were so 
     overpowering.'' He insisted on looking into one particular 
     room that contained piles of skeletal, naked men, killed 
     through starvation. ``I made the visit deliberately,'' he 
     said, ``in order to be in a position to give first-hand 
     evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there 
     develops a tendency to charge these allegations to 
     `propaganda.' ''
       Eisenhower wanted others to see this crime against 
     humanity. So, he urged American Congressmen and journalists 
     to go to the camps. He directed that a film record the 
     reality and that it be shown widely to German citizens. And 
     he ordered that as many GIs as possible see the camps. 
     American soldiers became what one writer called ``reluctant 
     archeologists of man's most inhuman possibilities.''
       Jack Hallet was one of the soldiers who liberated Dachau 
     found that it was difficult to separate the living from the 
     dead. As he looked closer at a stack of corpses, he noticed 
     that deep within the pile, he could see sets of eyes still 
       Dan Evers was in the 286th Combat Engineer Battalion at 
     Dachau: ``The gas chamber door was closed,'' he recalled, 
     ``but the ovens were still open. There was a sign in German 
     overhead which said: `Wash your hands after work.' ''
       Another soldier wrote to his parents, asking them to keep 
     his letter, because ``it is my personal memorandum of 
     something I personally want to remember but would like to 
       From Ebensee, Captain Timothy Brennan of the Third Cavalry 
     wrote to his wife and child: ``You cannot imagine that such 
     things exist in a civilized world.''
       From Mauthausen in Austria, Sergeant Fred Friendly wrote to 
     his mother: ``I want you to never forget or let our 
     disbelieving friends forget, that your flesh and blood saw 
     this . . . Your son saw this with his own eyes and in doing 
     so aged 10 years.''
       Beyond the shock and horror, American and Russian and other 
     Allied soldiers who liberated the camps were also witnesses 
     to hope. Tomorrow, you will have the opportunity to hear an 
     American GI tell one such story. Tomorrow Lt. John Withers, 
     of the all African-American Quartermaster Truck Company 3512, 
     will speak about how he and his soldiers changed the lives of 
     two young boys forever who were rescued from Dachau.
       Yet, as proud as we are of the role our soldiers played in 
     the liberation of the concentration camps, we know that we 
     all arrived too late for most of the victims.
       Just last week, a great Polish patriot passed away. During 
     World War II, Jan Nowak, who was not Jewish, risked his life 
     to leave Poland to bring news of the Nazi genocide to the 
     West. I was privileged to meet Jan Nowak in his Warsaw 
     apartment just three months ago. He recalled that after the 
     war when he was able to see the records of his secret 
     meetings with Western officials, there was no mention of what 
     he had told them about Poland's Jews. Nowak put it down to 
     ``wartime inconvenience.'' He was telling truths that people 
     wanted not to know.
       And, despite our fervent promises never to forget, we know 
     that there have been far too many occasions in the six 
     decades since the liberation of the concentration camps, when 
     the world ignored inconvenient truths so that it would not 
     have to act, or acted too late.
       We have agreed today to set aside contemporary political 
     issues, in order to reflect on those events of sixty years 
     ago in a spirit of unanimity. But let us do so with a 
     unanimous resolve to give real meaning to those words ``never 
     forget.'' And with a resolve that even when we may find it 
     too difficult to act, we at least have an obligation at least 
     to face the truth.
       Last Thursday, as he began his second term in office, 
     President George Bush expressed his belief that our nation's 
     interests cannot be separated from the aspirations of others 
     to be free from tyranny and oppression. ``America's vital 
     interests,'' he said, ``and our deepest beliefs are now one. 
     From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every 
     man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and 
     matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of 
     Heaven and earth. Across the generations we have proclaimed 
     the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to 
     be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave. Advancing 
     these ideals is the mission that created our Nation. It is 
     the honorable achievement of our fathers. Now it is the 
     urgent requirement of our nation's security, and the calling 
     of our time.''
       Americans remain committed to working with all nations of 
     good will to alleviate the suffering of our time. And we 
     remain hopeful that when generations to come look back on 
     this time they will see that we in it were dedicated to 
     fulfilling the pledge that arose from the ashes of man's 
     inhumanity toward man--Never again.
       Never again and never forget. We must keep remembering to 
     continue to speak about unspeakable things. So we commend the 
     United Nations for a remembrance of the Holocaust befitting 
     its significance in human history. In doing so, perhaps we 
     can help avoid such inhumanity and the warfare that is so 
     often the result.
       Thank you very much.