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Statement by Sara J. Bloomfield, Director
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Submitted for the Record
House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies
March 17, 2010
Mr. Chairman, Members of the Subcommittee, it is an honor to report to you on the
accomplishments and current programs of the United States Holocaust Memorial
Museum. On behalf of the institution and the millions of Americans who benefit annually
from its programs, I want to thank you for your continued support of the Museum and its
The Museum’s budget request for FY 2011 is $50,520,500. The proposed budget increase
over FY 2010 is $1.4 million for pay raises and inflation. The request level will provide
for the continuation of current Museum operations.
The Museum was built to do more than just teach the Holocaust – it was built to inspire
people, including our leaders, to act on the lessons learned from the Holocaust. As a
living memorial to the Holocaust, the Museum seeks to inspire leaders and citizens
worldwide to confront hate, prevent genocide and promote human dignity.
The Museum itself was a victim of hate last year when on June 10, 2009 an avowed white
supremacist made a brazen attack on the Museum where he shot and killed Stephen
Tyrone Johns, a Museum security officer, before being subdued by other officers on the
scene. Americans were abruptly reminded that there are people among us whose hatreds
would destroy the very things that bind civil society together: our common humanity and
democratic values. The Museum was established to stand vigil over that threat. History
will soon forget the shooter. But Officer Johns will long be remembered for the lives he
saved. His sacrifice inspires us every day, and every act of confronting hate honors his
memory. We are grateful to the American people and members of Congress for the
enormous outpouring of support for us and the Johns Family after this tragedy. The
Museum has engaged the Department of Homeland Security to conduct a complete
review of our security measures.
Calling attention to the contemporary relevance of the Holocaust was conceived by the
Museum’s founders as one of the most powerful ways to memorialize the victims of the
Holocaust and therefore is central to our mission. President Barack Obama delivered the
keynote address at the 2009 Days of Remembrance ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda
where he invoked the obligation of the living not just to honor and preserve the memory
of the dead, but also to resist injustice and take action in the face of new atrocities
wherever they may occur. In 2009, the Museum opened a new interactive installation
From Memory to Action which echoes the President's challenge, helping visitors
understand the problem of contemporary genocide. Also in 2009, the Genocide
Prevention Task Force, convened by the Museum and the U.S. Institute of Peace and cochaired
by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Secretary of Defense
William Cohen, released a report outlining how the U.S. can be better positioned to
respond to and prevent future genocides.
The Museum is also focused on teaching the role of leaders and professions in
maintaining democratic values and ensuring a just and humane society. Therefore, the
role the professions played in the Holocaust is the basis for the Museum's programs for
law enforcement, the judiciary, military, medicine, government, and education. These
programs involve an in-depth study of the participants’ particular profession during the
Holocaust with discussion of the implications for their own responsibilities today.
Among our many partners are the Naval Academy, FBI, Federal Judicial Center, Federal
Executive Institute, local police departments, and medical schools. In 2008 a new
program Law, Justice and the Holocaust was launched and in 2009 staff provided
training to all 50 U.S. State Chief Justices.
At the Museum itself over 30 million people have visited since the doors opened in 1993,
including nearly nine million schoolchildren, 90 heads of state, and more than 3,500
officials from 132 countries. In response to the rise of the Internet as a platform for hate
and misinformation, in 2009 the Museum opened a special exhibition State of Deception:
the Power of Nazi Propaganda that reveals how the Nazi Party used modern techniques
and new technologies to craft messages to sway millions with its vision for a new
Germany. The exhibit is part of multi-faceted, multi-year educational initiative that
explores the lessons of Nazi propaganda for our own “connected,” globalized world.
The Museum has extensive outreach efforts that reach millions more each year across the
United States and around the world, including traveling exhibitions, teacher training,
campus activities, Internet initiatives, and its multilingual Web site. Our Web site is the
world’s leading online authority on the Holocaust and is an integral element of our
strategy to reach students, educators and the public who are unable to visit the Museum.
The 30 million visits to the Museum’s Web site in 2009 included visitors from every state
and every country with Internet access except North Korea. Providing foreign language
translations for key parts of the Web site has been a major goal since 2007. With support
from private funding, translations are available in Spanish, French, Arabic, Chinese,
Farsi, Portuguese, Russian, Turkish, and Urdu with Indonesian and Korean translations in
Because the Holocaust is still a relatively new field of academic study, the Museum's
Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies has become the global leader in promoting the
growth and vitality of Holocaust research and teaching. In 2009, the Center awarded 26
fellowships to scholars from eight states and nine foreign countries, allowing them to
conduct research that provided new insights into the history and causes of the Holocaust.
In its ongoing work to give faculty solid historical resources and innovative pedagogical
skills as they incorporate the Holocaust into their curriculum, the Center reached 36 states
and Canada via three seminars for 63 professors and 54 outreach lectures at institutions of
higher learning. The Center is also a producer of original Holocaust research and
publications, including major reference works. The first of the multi-volume
Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos was published in 2009 and won this year’s National
Jewish Book Award in the Holocaust category.
The Museum houses the world’s most comprehensive collection of archival materials,
books, films, music, oral histories, periodicals, personal papers, and photographs
documenting the historical record of the Holocaust. In addition to supporting the
research needs of scholars, educators, the general public, and Museum curators, the
collections memorialize the victims, serving as “evidence of the crime,” a critical need at
a time when Holocaust denial and minimization are increasing trends. This effort to
“rescue the evidence,” preserve it, and make it available online or in person is one of the
institution’s most urgent priorities.
The Museum is also seeking to add to its collections rare material such as testimonies of
perpetrators, collaborators and eyewitnesses as well as other materials from bystanders
and collaborators. In recent years and with great support from Congress, the Museum led
a successful effort to open the archives of the International Tracing Service, making
publically available for the first time a massive trove of documents on victims of the
Holocaust. Thousands of people from almost 50 countries have researched the ITS
collection with priority given to the needs of Holocaust survivors and their families.
With the addition of these millions of items to the Museum's holdings, the urgency to
provide digital access to our collections as a whole has increased. Although the Museum
does not have funding specifically dedicated to collections digitization, the proposed FY
2011 budget includes a request to apply some of the no-year funding to exhibition related
digitization projects in coming years.
Thanks to annual Federal funding of a strong repair and rehabilitation program, the
Museum is able to meet the maintenance needs of the Museum building and the historic
administrative center and currently has no maintenance backlog on these facilities. In
2008, the Museum relocated its leased office space to be closer to the Museum using nonappropriated
funds to finance the cost of the move. The Museum is currently evaluating
its collections storage facility and its ability to serve the institution’s needs over the long
The non-appropriated side of the public-private partnership provides funding to
supplement core programs and to extend the reach of the Museum through nationwide
educational outreach programs, and fully supports the costs of fundraising. Fundraising
has been quite difficult the past 18 months because of the recession, but the Museum is
still very much supported by its donors and in FY 2009 raised over $33 million. Our
privately funded budget was cut substantially in FY 09 and FY 10 due to a fundraising
shortfall of approximately 25%. The Museum's endowment stood at $176 million as of
December 31, 2009 and provides approximately 20 percent of the annual nonappropriated
budget through the distribution of earnings. The private component of the
partnership also includes contributed services: in 2009, over 300 volunteers, including 86
Holocaust survivors, donated more than 39,000 hours of service to the Museum.
In closing, we want to express our deep appreciation to the subcommittee and Congress
for their continued support. As the world continues to confront problems of hate, ethnic
violence, genocide and threats to democratic values, the Museum’s mission is both timely
and urgent. We are grateful that Congress and the American people are our partners in
“ Today we welcome Sara Bloomfield, who has been director since 1999. Ms. Bloomfield has an outstanding reputation as an educator and has led many important efforts.
Who better to keep us stuck in the past than the Holocaust Museum.
It was refreshing to hear Ahmadinejad recently, who gave a speech at the UN. He is in a position to openly express a different point of view on the Holocaust, and on World War II. As a result he was free to propose intelligent solutions to world problems, and point out how Western aggression and greed contribute to world problems.
Wouldn't that be a piece of cake for them?
And just think, they could help put an end to "holocaust denial" at the same time.
What are they waiting for?
(I get $80 Million by taking the base appropriation of $50 Mill, plus 3% on the $180 Mill endowment, or $5.4 Mill, which is 20% of the non-appropriated funds, which therefore must be about $27 Mill, and they're bringing in anywhere from $25 MM-$33 MM in donations.)
Does the Holocaust "really" have such continuing relevance? Obviously, no one who works for, or who runs, a "Holocaust Museum" will ever be able to admit as much. Not unless they want to retire. And yet, the Federal Government is now providing 5/8ths of the upkeep of this thing; and the amount that is provided by US taxpayers is TWICE the amount that is donated by interested parties (presumably Jewish people interested in keeping the Holocaust alive.) This makes no sense, and underlines the diminishing relevance of the enterprise.
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