WASHINGTON — The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum will present the 2017 Elie Wiesel Award, the institution’s highest honor, to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, recognizing her singular contributions in support of Holocaust memory and education. Chancellor Merkel will accept the award by video at the Museum’s National Tribute Dinner on Monday, April 24, during Days of Remembrance when the Museum leads the nation in remembering the victims of the Holocaust. German Ambassador Peter Wittig will offer remarks on her behalf. Author and presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin will deliver the keynote address.
“Chancellor Merkel has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to making the preservation of Holocaust memory a priority for Germany,” said Museum Chairman Tom A. Bernstein. “The Museum has partnered with the German government and institutions on many initiatives and those partnerships have only grown deeper and more fruitful under Chancellor Merkel.”
When the Museum was facing staunch opposition in its effort to open the largest closed Holocaust archive in the world, the International Tracing Service, Chancellor Merkel changed her government’s policy and sent her justice minister to the Museum to announce Germany’s support for opening the archives, thereby enabling thousands of survivors and their families to discover for the first time the fate of loved ones.
The Chancellor has supported the creation and strengthening of Holocaust-related institutions in Germany which have become among the Museum’s most important partners. She has repeatedly and vigorously condemned all manifestations of antisemitism. Her visit to Buchenwald with the Museum’s founding chairman Elie Wiesel in 2009 was symbolic of the many efforts that have been made by Germany to confront its past.
Established in 2011, the Elie Wiesel Award is named in honor of its inaugural recipient, Nobel Peace laureate and the Museum’s founding chairman. Engraved on the award are words from Wiesel’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech, “One person of integrity can make a difference.”
The Museum presents the award at its National Tribute Dinner to an internationally prominent individual whose actions have advanced the Museum’s vision of a world where people confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity.
In spring 2018, the Museum will launch a new exhibition examining Americans’ responses to the Holocaust. The Dinner’s keynote speaker is presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of six critically acclaimed, New York Times best-selling books, including No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, The Home Front in World War II. An assistant to Lyndon Johnson during his last year as president, Goodwin later helped him prepare his memoirs. She has won several awards for her writing, including the Pulitzer Prize.
The Museum’s National Tribute Dinner will be held on Monday, April 24, at 6 p.m. at the Washington Marriott Marquis. The event’s co-chairs are Nancy and Marc Duber and Melanie and Larry Nussdorf.
As part of Days of Remembrance, the Museum will commemorate those who perished in the Holocaust with the annual Names Readings. The readings will be held daily in the Museum’s Hall of Remembrance from Saturday, April 22, through Wednesday, April 26, from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Museum visitors and members of the community are invited to participate. More information on Days of Remembrance activities can be found at ushmm.org/remembrance/dor.
A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum inspires citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity. Its far-reaching educational programs and global impact are made possible by generous donors. For more information, visit www.ushmm.org.