WASHINGTON – More than 1,100 people attended the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s National Tribute Dinner honoring Nobel Laureate and Museum Founding Chairman Elie Wiesel for the singular role he has played in the cause of Holocaust remembrance and his significant contributions to humanity. The Museum presented him with its inaugural institutional award to be named the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Elie Wiesel Award. 

The award will presented each year to an individual who has demonstrated exceptional leadership in advancing the Museum’s vision of a world where people confront hatred, prevent genocide and promote human dignity.   Elie Wiesel’s extraordinary vision and moral stature played an indispensible role in the creation of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and in inspiring a worldwide movement to ensure the lessons of the Holocaust forever shape the human experience.

“It was Elie Wiesel’s conviction that the Museum should be a ‘living’ memorial, and no one else has done so much to honor the victims of the Holocaust by working tirelessly to create a more just world in their memory,” said Museum Director Sara J. Bloomfield. “His legacy to humanity is unique and extraordinary. It is our great privilege to present him with the institution’s inaugural award that will forever carry his name.”

The Tribute Dinner was held on Monday, May 16th at the Wardman Park Marriott in Washington, D.C. Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson served as the Dinner’s National Chairs, and Jennifer Loew and Daniel Mendelson; and Lauri and Jeffrey Zell were the Washington Co-Chairs.

The dinner was held as part of the Museum’s Days of Remembrance observations.  The Museum designated, “Justice and Accountability in the Face of Genocide: What Have We Learned?” as the theme for the 2011 observances.  This year marks the 65th anniversary of the verdicts at the first Nuremberg trial, a watershed moment in international justice, and the 50th anniversary of the trial of Adolf Eichmann, one of the most high-profile postwar recounting of the Nazi genocide and a landmark in public awareness of the Holocaust. 

The program also featured acclaimed author and historian Deborah Lipstadt who about her new book, The Eichmann Trial, written while she was the Judith B. and Burton P. Resnick Invitational Scholar at the Museum’s Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies. 

A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum inspires citizens and leaders to confront hatred, prevent genocide and promote human dignity. Federal support guarantees the Museum’s permanent place on the National Mall, and its far-reaching educational programs and global impact are made possible by the generosity of donors nationwide. For more information, visit www.ushmm.org.


ELIE, IT WAS ALMOST TWO YEARS AGO WHEN WE STOOD TOGETHER IN BUCHENWALD AND YOU TOLD ME YOUR STORY OF SUFFERING AND TRAGEDY — OF STRENGTH AND OF HOPE… You carry with you the horrors you endured and the loved ones you lost. But your gift has always been your ability to share that memory and to remind each of us of our responsibility to stand up to injustice wherever we find it.  You said, “Memory has become the sacred duty of all people of good will.”  It’s a duty we all share — to bear witness but also to ensure that such a tragedy never happens again.  Thank you, Elie, for showing us the way. 

President Barack H. Obama 


ELIE ALWAYS SAYS THAT INDIFFERENCE IS THE GREATEST PROBLEM. HE HAS DEVOTED HIS LIFE TO PEACE… AND MADE IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR THE WORLD TO TURN A BLIND EYE TO EVIL.  During my presidency I benefited from his wisdom… the force of his conviction.  Elie Wiesel and the Museum did a lot to educate the world about the violence in the Dafur region in Sudan. I gave one of my major speeches on Darfur at the Museum in Elie’s presence… it was a fine setting to remind the world that the words “never again” referred not to the past but to the future.  I thank Elie Wiesel for his courage… [and] his leadership in the establishment of the Holocaust Museum on our National Mall.  Congratulations on being honored with this meaningful award, Elie. 

Former President George W. Bush 


ELIE UNDERSTOOD THAT MEMORY ALONE WAS NOT ENOUGH; THE COMBINATION OF MEMORY AND EDUCATION was imperative to learn the lessons, deepen our humanity, and finally to inspire action.  This is just as important today as it was the day the Museum opened its doors.  On that day, I remember saying that I hope this Museum would touch the lives of everyone who entered, leaving everyone forever changed… I believe it has done that, and it will continue to do so for generations to come… thanks in no small measure to the powerful example of Elie Wiesel.  It’s a great honor to mark the presentation of this award to Elie.  He’s a friend, a teacher, an inspiration to all of us. 

Former President William J. Clinton 


THERE WAS NO MUSEUM, JUST A BIG PIECE OF LAND NEXT TO THE WASHINGTON MONUMENT.  Many of us wondered how would [Elie’s] vision ever be translated into a powerful teaching memorial. I will never forget visiting the Museum after it opened… I came away thinking how important it was that Elie and his unique vision had prevailed.  The Museum teaches us about human evil and that each of us bears responsibility for our actions and for our failure to act.  It is an honor to be part of this award presentation to a man who has contributed so much to humanity.  I know I speak for millions the world over in expressing my great admiration for this remarkable man. 

Former President George H.W. Bush 


IN 1978, TO ENSURE THAT WE IN THE UNITED STATES WOULD NEVER FORGET THE TRAGEDY AND THE LESSONS OF THE HOLOCAUST, I ESTABLISHED A COMMISSION TO RECOMMEND AN APPROPRIATE MEMORIAL.  I asked Elie Wiesel to serve as chairman.  He led the commission to sites in Europe where horrifying atrocities had taken place.  I believe that it inspired an extraordinary vision for the memorial… it had to be about the future as much as the past.  Our original purpose has been more than realized.  Elie is my friend and hero. I can think of no one more deserving of the first United States Holocaust Memorial Museum award.

Former President Jimmy Carter



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