- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 15, 2005

JERUSALEM — Israel’s president warned yesterday of renewed anti-Semitism as he participated in the opening of a $56 million Holocaust museum that focuses on the personal stories of the 6 million Jews who perished in the Nazi genocide.

Leaders from about 40 nations attended the ceremony at the Holocaust History Museum, which took 10 years to complete, at Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem memorial. The building, designed by Israeli-American architect Moshe Safdie, spans more than 45,000 square feet — four times larger than the museum it replaces.

Hundreds of police patrolled Jerusalem to protect the visitors, among them more than a dozen heads of government and state. Major thoroughfares were closed to traffic, and a bomb squad carried out numerous sweeps.

On hand for the inaugural ceremonies were U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan; the presidents of Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Lithuania, Poland, Serbia-Montenegro, and Switzerland; prime ministers from France, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Romania; and foreign ministers from Germany, Norway and Spain.

New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg represented the United States.

Israeli President Moshe Katsav cut the ribbon opening the building and then called on European nations to fight renewed expressions of anti-Semitism.

“We are concerned about Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism,” he said. Europe “must accept the burden of the memory and lessons of the Holocaust for the future it is building. It owes this to the millions of Jews who were murdered on its soil.”

Mr. Annan said the main task is to prevent a repetition of the Holocaust anywhere.

“A United Nations that fails to be at the forefront of the fight against anti-Semitism and other forms of racism denies its history and undermines its future,” he said.

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said the opening of the museum was “a moment of commemoration for the 6 million murdered by Nazi Germany.”

“Of course, Germany is my country, so it’s also a historical and moral responsibility to never forget what happened and the responsibility of my country for the Shoah,” he added, using the Hebrew word for Holocaust.

To give a human dimension to Holocaust statistics, about 90 personal stories are woven into the museum’s displays, which also feature about 280 works of art.

A video projected onto the wall of the entrance shows daily Jewish life in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s. Visitors can walk through a typical living room of a Jewish family in Germany in the 1930s. A life-size replica of the Warsaw ghetto’s Leszno Street features cobblestones, a 1940s tram track and lampposts replete with shrapnel holes from the Jewish uprising — all donated by the Polish capital.

The museum also displays a three-tiered wooden barracks where concentration camp inmates slept, a cattle wagon that transported Jews to their deaths and a small fishing boat that ferried Danish Jews to safety in Sweden.

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