96-H 9003

Passed in House

Apr. 23, 1996.


WHEREAS, In the midst of the presumedly enlightened 20th Century, Germany, an ancient land long steeped in Christian tradition, with a culture that once inspired and nurtured such giants as Goethe and Beethoven, surrendered itself and its heritage to the dark, irrational underside of the human spirit and degenerated into the neo-barbarism of Nazism -- a descent into Hell that not only engulfed and destroyed Germany, but threatened to extinguish the light of civilization throughout the world; and

WHEREAS, When the weapons of mass destruction were finally silenced, and the totality of Nazi crimes and atrocities were made known, an amazed and terrified world could only stand as a stunned and enraged witness to what fellow human beings had inflicted upon their brothers and sisters; and

WHEREAS, The horror and anguish of a not so distant past that so permeated such infamous killing grounds as Auchwitz, Buchenwald, Dachau and Belsen, which have today been replaced by a preternatural quiet and calm that hovers somberly over rows of sanitized barracks and rusting ovens that once attempted to mask the enormity of Nazi crimes, now stand as mute memorials to the six million Jews and eleven million total victims who succumbed to the deliberate Nazi program of genocide known as the Holocaust; and

WHEREAS, We, the citizens of Rhode Island, the heirs to a rich heritage of religious tolerance and respect for individual liberty and dignity, know all too well that the price exacted for these rights and freedoms is eternal vigilance and courage, and we are particularly sensitive to the anguish of those far less fortunate than ourselves and have suffered and died for their religious convictions; and

WHEREAS, The lessons of the Holocaust have been powerfully articulated by Walter Reich, Director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. "The past informs us so we understand how we can live in the present and not repeat the mistakes and the depredations... Anyone who tries to take a very dark chapter in history, distort it, transform it in order to enable current policies to proceed as he or she wishes, is not only desecrating the past but also the present and laying a foundation for the desecration of the future...We cannot understand the nature and meaning and possible consequences of prejudice unless we understand history. And anybody who attempts to distort history takes away from us our ability to understand those consequences."; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That this House of Representatives of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations hereby reaffirms its pledge to work to eradicate the stains of prejudice, brutality and injustice through education, vigilance and resistance to the forces of oppression, and calls upon our fellow citizens to observe April 16, 1996 as a solemn day of remembrance commemorating the victims of the Holocaust; and be it further

RESOLVED, That the Secretary of State be and he hereby is authorized and directed to transmit duly certified copies of this resolution to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and the Holocaust Museum of Rhode Island.

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