Donald Trump's White House 'blocked State Department Holocaust memorial statement that mentioned Jews'

President's own statement refers to 'victims, survivors' and 'those who died'

Jon Sharman
Friday 03 February 2017 13:53 GMT

Donald Trump's new White House administration reportedly blocked an official International Holocaust Remembrance Day statement that mentioned Jewish victims of Nazi massacres.

The State Department's office of the special envoy on Holocaust issues had drafted a statement for the new President that commemorated the millions of Jews murdered by the Hitler regime.

But this was blocked by the Trump administration, according to the Politico website. Another statement was then released on behalf of the US leader.

The three-paragraphs made reference to "victims, survivors" and "those who died", but it made no mention of the Jewish victims.

This statement was heavily criticised for the omission. Some 6 million Jews, including one-and-a-half-million children, are estimated to have died in the genocide.

The President's statement also failed to mention Roma, gay people, the disabled or any specific group that was killed in the Holocaust.

Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defmation League, called the speech "puzzling and troubling".

But a White House official told Politico that Mr Trump's representatives had not seen the State Department's draft before publishing its own and had advised it not to release the second statement late in the day.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer defended the statement released by Mr Trump. He said it had been written with the help of a Jewish person descended from Holocaust survivors.

Mr Trump's chief of staff, Reince Priebus, also backed the speech.

"Everyone's suffering in the Holocaust, including obviously all of the Jewish people affected and the miserable genocide that occurred is something that we consider to be extraordinarily sad and something that can never be forgotten," he told NBC's Meet the Press.

It is not the first such statement to omit explicit mention of Jews. The State Department's 2013 release on behalf of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also failed to include them.

Mr Trump's statement in full:

"It is with a heavy heart and sombre mind that we remember and honour the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust. It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror.

"Yet, we know that in the darkest hours of humanity, light shines the brightest.‎ As we remember those who died, we are deeply grateful to those who risked their lives to save the innocent.

"In the name of the perished, I pledge to do everything in my power throughout my presidency, and my life, to ensure that the forces of evil never again defeat the powers of good. Together, we will make love and tolerance prevalent throughout the world."

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