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JAN 25, 2008

Mayor and Holocaust Survivors Commemorate Auschwitz Liberation with Groundbreaking for New Holocaust Museum

LOS ANGELES, CA  – Mayor Antonio Villaraigrosa and the Holocaust survivors who founded the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust today commemorated the 63rd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by breaking ground for the Museum’s permanent home. City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, Councilman Tom Labonge, and other Museum representatives also participated in the ceremony, which was held at the future construction site, a currently under-utilized corner of Pan Pacific Park.

“Today, I stand humbled before you, those who still bear the scars of Auschwitz and many other camps on your souls. It is my awesome task to dedicate on this ground what we will together build, a 21st century museum. The new Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust will ensure not only that our fair city will continue to honor the memory of the greatest crime in history. It will also ensure that any school or group or adult or child who wants to learn of that crime can do so,” said Randy Schoenberg, Museum Chairman.

The Museum, the oldest of its kind in the United States, is the only L.A. institution with free admission and a sole focus on the events of the Holocaust. It guarantees a dialogue with a survivor for any group that schedules a tour, and it is particularly focused on hosting students from under-funded schools.  

Mr. Villaraigrosa, Mr. Labonge and Mr. Delgadillo joined the survivors and representatives of the Museum in ringing 12 bells, 6 for the 6 million Jewish victims and 6 more for the additional 6 million victims of other ‘undesirable’ groups.

“The liberation of Auschwitz 63 years ago was the first step towards extinguishing, once and for all, the fire of the Nazi concentration camps. The Russian Army threw open those barbed wire gates and revealed that the Nazis single-mindedly incinerated entire Jewish communities, as well Romany, Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, political opponents, and others. The museum we will build will tell the story of all these Holocausts,” said Mark Rothman, Museum Executive Director.

Today’s ceremony also kicked off the Museum’s $20 million capital campaign to fund the building’s construction and an operating endowment. Nearly $9 million has already been donated or pledged.

The ground breaking culminates a 4-year process that included an environmental impact study, unanimous approval by the Board of Commissioners of the Department of Parks and Recreation, and execution of a 50-year lease agreement by the City Attorney.

Construction in earnest is expected to begin this summer, with completion currently scheduled for early 2010.

“When I was in Auschwitz,” said Miriam Bell, one of the Museum’s founders and a participant in today’s ceremony, “I didn’t know if I would live another day. And now, to have lived another 63 years, and to know the Museum I helped create will live on here in the park, it’s just incredible. Beyond words.”