Nobel Prize recipient and Cornell Professor Emeritus delivered a talk at the University on Wednesday, sharing his experiences as a Holocaust survivor and speaking on the ongoing aggression in Ukraine to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Up the slope of Mount Herzl, in western Jerusalem, lies a 44-acre complex that is one of the world’s most moving testaments to the real life costs and consequences of totalitarianism. Yad Vashem, which I visited earlier this month as part of a small Cornell student delegation, is often described oversimplistically as Israel’s “Holocaust memorial.” Yad Vashem memorializes the millions of innocent lives lost to the Holocaust, but also those — Jews and non-Jews — who bravely resisted it. One does not leave Yad Vashem without a deep recognition of what happens when the power of the absolute state is wedded to an ideology that denies the God-given, individual rights of man. This past Sunday, the world appropriately commemorated International Holocaust Remembrance Day, one of the most solemn international memorial days marking the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest concentration and death camp operated by the Nazis during the Holocaust. Each International Holocaust Remembrance Day, we hear the phrase “Never Again.” Yet, sadly and frighteningly, we appear to be in the process of forgetting anyway.