WASHINGTON (JTA) – Melania Trump toured the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“My thoughts and prayers are with the people whose lives and families were broken by the horrors of the Holocaust,” the U.S. first lady said Thursday in a statement two days before Jan. 27, which was established by the United Nations to commemorate the 1945 liberation of the Auschwitz death camp. “Yet it is also through our shared humanity that we come together now in commemoration, strength, and love.”
The statement from her office said the tour “recounted the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany from 1933 through 1939, the evolution of the party through the 1940s and its policies toward the Jewish people, and the liberation of Nazi concentration camps in 1945 by the Allied forces.”
U.S. President Donald Trump stirred controversy last year shortly after his inauguration by releasing a statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day that did not mention Jews. Administration officials said the statement’s aim was to honour all victims of the Holocaust, not just the Jews.
An array of Jewish groups, including several that supported Trump, voiced outrage. Tens of millions of people died because of the war launched by the Nazis, but the Holocaust refers exclusively to the Nazi attempt to wipe out the Jews, murdering six million of them.
Melania Trump posted photos of her tour on Twitter and added the hashtag #AskWhy, launched this week by the museum to encourage Americans about the genesis of the Holocaust and its aftermath.
“Why did people turn on co-workers and classmates, friends, and neighbours?” museum director Sara Bloomfield said this week in a Medium post launching the initiative. “Why were so many susceptible to Nazi ideology? Why did some take great risks to help a fellow human being? Why do some deny the Holocaust now?”