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Introductory Remarks at Screening of "There Was Once" Documentary

Michael G. Kozak
Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Dean Acheson Auditorium
Washington, DC
January 30, 2014


On behalf of Acting Assistant Secretary Uzra Zeya, Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Ira Forman, and all my colleagues in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, I welcome you to today’s screening of the documentary “There Was Once” by Gabor Kalman. I had the pleasure of seeing the film and participating on a panel with Mr. Kalman, and am delighted that we have found a way to bring this important film to you in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

In 2005, the UN General Assembly proclaimed January 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day to honor the memory of all Holocaust victims, and to renew our commitment to genocide prevention. Remembrance Day aims to ensure that the Holocaust “will forever be a warning to all people of the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice."

This week, Secretary Kerry highlighted the importance of remembrance when he wrote:

“Nearly 70 years after World War Two ended, 70 years after the world’s collective horror at the Holocaust, anti-Semitism remains a global menace. It is not enough to remember the millions of innocent lives lost in one of the darkest chapters in all of world history. We must reaffirm our vow never to forget the evil that comes from bigotry and intolerance and turn that commitment into action.”

We are particularly pleased to welcome special guests both here in Washington and in Budapest. In Washington, we welcome director Gabor Kalman, along with Holocaust survivors and representatives from the embassies of Hungary, Poland, and Spain. From Budapest, joining us via video teleconference, we welcome U.S. Charge d’Affaires, Andre Goodfriend, as well as Gyongyi Mago, the teacher who is featured in the film. The audience in Budapest also consists of high school teachers, officials from the Department of Education in charge of Holocaust Education in the Curriculum, members of the Embassy Youth Council, as well as non-governmental organizations working on tolerance issues.

The power of an individual to foster tolerance is displayed by the protagonist of this film, Gyongyi Mago. We are so grateful that she is able to join us for this screening. I am sure you will enjoy this remarkable film, and I encourage you to profit fully from the opportunity to exchange views with Gyongyi Mago and Gabor Kalman after the viewing.

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