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Department Seal Stuart E. Eizenstat, Under Secretary for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs
Address at U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC, September 25, 1998

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It gives me great pleasure to participate in the working group meeting of the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research. I take special satisfaction today as the United States assumes the chairmanship of this important initiative for the remainder of the year.

No one can question how important and how tragically overdue is the international community's focus on Holocaust-era assets. Equally clear is the importance of a fresh focus on Holocaust education, remembrance, and research. As we come to the close of this century and enter the new millennium, it is memory -- memory of the most tragic events of this century -- that must endure so that such horrors are not repeated. It is therefore critical for us all to intensify and improve our efforts in the realm of Holocaust education. Swedish Prime Minister Persson recognized this imperative and launched a Holocaust-education initiative first at home and then abroad by inviting the cooperation of Prime Minister Blair and President Clinton. Today, Israel and Germany join the Task Force and give it a welcome new impetus.

We, of course, recognize and salute the efforts, over many years, of NGOs and individuals in the Holocaust-education domain. This initiative nonetheless embodies real innovation. There is no precedent for heads of state and government, as they have in this case, to work through diplomatic channels to foster international cooperation in Holocaust education.

Represented here are five governments, each of which brings to the table notable strengths; each has much to contribute. Sweden originated the concept of the Task Force and has offered for consideration its own Holocaust educational effort, which reaches deeply and comprehensively into Swedish homes and schools. In the United Kingdom, we have the example of long-time public and private sector institutions' cooperation in Holocaust education as well as the leadership the British Government has provided in meeting head-on Holocaust-assets issues -- leadership highlighted by last year's London Nazi Gold Conference. In the United States, we see Holocaust education woven through the nation's social fabric in the work of NGOs; in school curricula determined at national, state, and local levels; and in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, which has established itself as a solemn treasure for our nation and the world.

The two governments joining us today will also bring unique experiences and responsibilities to the Holocaust-education endeavor. Israel is, of course, the home to a large number of Holocaust survivors as well as great institutions of learning and remembrance such as Yad Vashem. These resources can enrich the Task Force's work at every level. Germany's efforts can also serve as a model in our discussions because of its particularly pertinent lessons learned from over 50 years of thorough and cathartic Holocaust-education practices.

Today, representatives of these five governments are reviewing efforts under way in these priority areas: a survey of international Holocaust education, remembrance, and research; an adaptation of a Swedish Holocaust education booklet for international use; a draft report on Holocaust education guidelines; and progress on archival access.

They are also discussing ways and plans for how most effectively to use the upcoming Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets both to highlight the substantive work of this initiative as well as to showcase and encourage additional educational efforts in our countries and, indeed, in other countries.

The work of the Task Force already has provided heartening proof of a new international consensus to put Holocaust education at the forefront of our collective consciousness. With this meeting, our five governments have developed further the substantive and diplomatic frameworks to move forward together and with other countries to advance our common Holocaust-education goals in the months and years ahead.

[End of Document]

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