New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will join leaders from around the world at a ceremony in Poland on Monday commemorating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp by Soviet troops.
The Democrat departed for Poland on Sunday following a press briefing where he was joined by several Holocaust survivors and Alan Moskin, a U.S. Army veteran who talks to school children about his experiences liberating a Nazi concentration camp in 1945. Cuomo said he will leave a rock at Auschwitz engraved with the words “New York state remembers,” as well as mementos and tokens from Auschwitz survivors, state elected officials and Jewish community leaders.
“This state will never forget the Nazi atrocities that were perpetrated against the Jews, and as we confront a growing cancer of hate and intolerance against the Jewish community, this trip will serve as a reminder of our shared New York values against intolerance and division,” Cuomo said, noting that the anniversary comes amid a rash of anti-Semitic hate crimes in New York and across the country.
“It is tragic that 75 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial is growing,” said Samuel Hersley, an Auschwitz survivor who lost his parents, brother and over 70 other relatives in the Holocaust. “Please never forget my story and all of those who cannot tell their story, it should not be forgotten.”
At the press conference, the Alfred Kantor Sketchbook — a book containing drawings of the machinery and inner workings of Auschwitz drawn by a prisoner of the camp, who smuggled paper and pencil to capture these images, was on display. The book is on loan from the Museum of Jewish Heritage, where it was gifted by Alfred Kantor, who immigrated to the United States and worked and lived in Bayside, Queens for many years.
As part of his 2020 State of the State address and budget plan, Cuomo proposed that New York schools add a curriculum that teaches civic values and the state’s history of diversity and religious freedom. He also advanced legislation requiring that every student visit a museum that covers topics related to the Holocaust.
Rabbi David Zwiebel, Executive Vice President, Agudath Israel of America, who attended the governor’s press conference, said, “Governor Cuomo’s personal participation in tomorrow’s international commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the notorious Auschwitz — Birkenau concentration camps sends a powerful message that has as much to do with the headlines of today as it does with the pages of history: anti-Semitism is a poisonous cancer that must be confronted wherever it raises its ugly head. Thank you, Governor Cuomo, for your never-wavering friendship, for your uncommon human decency, for your tireless leadership. Jewish New Yorkers, and all persons of goodwill, are deeply indebted to you.”
Malcolm Hoenlein, Vice President of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, said, “Governor Cuomo has always been a friend to the Jewish community and a steadfast leader in the fight against the growing anti-Semitism that is infecting our state and nation. As one of the few elected officials in U.S. to attend the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, he is showing New York’s support for the Jewish community and raising awareness about the horrors of the Holocaust so that we never forget.”
Allen Fagin, Executive Vice President and Chief Professional Officer of the Orthodox Union said, “As we approach the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, we must continue telling the stories of our Jewish brothers and sisters and the horrors they endured so that we never forget. I am so grateful that Governor Cuomo, who has been a national leader in the fight against anti-Semitism, is representing New York and the United States at this important remembrance ceremony and for his continuous support of the Jewish community.”