I want to express my gratitude to our partners, the Consular Corps of Tampa Bay and the Tampa Bay Chapter of the United Nations Association, for co-hosting the International Holocaust Remembrance Day commemoration at the Italian Club on Sunday.
Tuesday marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. How fortunate we are in the Tampa Bay area to be able to hear from survivors and liberators who came from the horrors of Nazi-occupied lands to build new lives in Florida.
One of the most moving stories on Sunday came from retired U.S. Army Maj. Frank Towers. His unit intercepted a Nazi train carrying 2,500 Jewish prisoners, barely alive, packed into boxcars similar to the one on display at the Florida Holocaust Museum. He said, “No American mind can comprehend the devastating cruelty of the Nazis.” Major Towers is the last surviving member of the unit that freed those prisoners and one of the last American soldiers who is still able to share this first-person experience with the rest of the world. Soon, the responsibility of passing down these experiences and the terrible lessons learned will be on our shoulders alone.
In these difficult times, with the whispers of anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial and hate speech growing louder, it is more important than ever to share these stories of man’s inhumanity to man, to listen and to learn so that we can make the words “never again” a reality.
Thank you again to our partners, with special thanks to Consular Correspondent of Italy Vincent Genovese and his wife, Linda, for the many hours they donated to the organization of this event. It was a privilege to work with you.
The writer is executive director of the Florida Holocaust Museum.