WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – 100 survivors of the Holocaust using Monday to remind the world of the evil that killed more than 6 million people.
Ruth Cohen is one of those survivors who attended a ceremony for “Days of Remembrance” at the US Capitol in Washington DC.
The United States Congress established the Days of Remembrance as the nation’s annual commemoration of the Holocaust.
Each year, during the Days of Remembrance, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum leads the nation in honoring the victims of the Holocaust and Nazi persecution.
Cohen is remembering her mother, brother and two other siblings who went in to Auschwitz but did not come out alive.
“In ’44 we were taken to Auschwitz,” she remembered with her voice quivering. “My father, my sister and I survived, the rest of the family is gone.”
Ruth is worried when she looks at today’s society. Sighing, she said, “We’re going backwards, that we’re going towards Hitler. That’s my honest fear,” she said.
She has a message. “Go forward. Work hard to make humanity happy, well, able to live in peace.”
Nuremberg prosecutor Benjamin Ferencz was the keynote speaker Monday.
At 99, he’s the last surviving attorney of the Nuremberg trial.
He successfully prosecuted one of the world’s first convictions of crime against humanity of Nazi perpetrators.
He got 22 guilty verdicts for high-ranking Nazi’s on trial for the murders of more than a million people.
Currently — he concentrates on peace –and is opposed to war — his slogan is “law, not war.”
“We’d save billions of dollars every day to take care of the really pressing needs all around the world and if we can do that, I’m sure that would be a revolution and salvation of this planet,” he said.
His remedy is simple. “I have 3 pieces of advice,” he said with a smile, “1, never give up, 2, never give up, 3, I hear the echo, saying never give up. So it’s up to the public to decide which way we go.”
Ferencz graduated from Harvard Law School then enlisted as a private in the Army before fighting in the Battle of the Bulge.
Following World War II, he was recruited by General Telford Taylor, in charge of the Nuremberg trials, to direct a team of researchers in Berlin to investigate top secret documents in the German foreign ministry.
In 2016, Ferencz invested in the future of genocide prevention with the creation of the Ferencz International Justice Initiative at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide.
The US Holocaust Memorial Museum teaches we all have a role in shaping the future, by understanding the past.
“If we stand by and don’t say anything and we let bigotry, hatred and anti semitism fester,” said Robert Tanen of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, “we’re not doing anything about it and we’re letting the haters win.”
The week-long Days of Remembrance was first held in 1979 and then later established by Congress as the nation’s commemoration of the Holocaust.
This year’s Days of Remembrance will be observed from Sunday, April 8 through Sunday April 15.
To learn more about the Holocaust and Days of Remembrance click here.