"The survivors are leaving us," he said on Tuesday at the inauguration of the Berlin office for the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education Remembrance and Research (ITF). "Our duty is to make sure that the memory doesn't recede further, become more abstract or disappear into the fog of history."
ITF, an organization with 25 member states, aims to insure this doesn't happen. The organization supports events and educational projects in several countries to promote remembrance of the Shoah.
Just one day before the ITF event, German Foreign Ministry official Dr. Benedikt Haller, who will head the German delegation for the organization, was quoted in the Israeli daily Jerusalem Post that German youth are prone to "Holocaust fatigue."
The daily reported that Haller attributed an "over-infusion" of Holocaust curriculum to educators who have rebelled against the silence of their parents and grandparents on the issue. Although he was quoted as saying that perhaps some German teachers "overdid it a little," the paper reported that he stressed that the Holocaust should still be a fundamental part of the curriculum at German schools.
But both educators and Jewish leaders criticized Haller's comments.
"This is the wrong message to send out when there is so much more work that needs to be done, " Susan Myers, executive director of the Holocaust Museum in Houston, Texas told the paper. "With anti-Semitism on the rise, this is not the time to slow down," she said.