President Reagan unveiled the cornerstone of the Holocaust Memorial Museum on Wednesday and challenged the Soviet Union to relax its restrictions on Jewish emigration, saying, “Let these people go.”
“In these days of glasnost , we hear talk of liberalizing attitudes toward Judaism in the Soviet Union,” the President told about 1,500 people gathered in a tent at the museum site near the Washington Monument.
But, he said, “there are still tens of thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands” of Jews waiting to leave the Soviet Union.
“And here, as we lay this cornerstone and vow that the Jewish people will never stand alone against tyranny, I want to ask the Soviet leaders a question: Where are those exit visas? Where are they?” he said.
‘United in the Challenge’
“You and I and all Americans of good will are united in the challenge I propose to the Soviet leaders today,” he said. “I say: Let these people go.”
The President, assisted by Harvey M. Meyerhoff of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Commission, pulled a gold cord to reveal the chunk of pink North Carolina granite that will stand at the corner of the museum.
The museum, being built with private funds on land donated by the federal government, is expected to open late in 1990 to commemorate the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews and other persecuted people were killed in Europe by Adolf Hitler’s Nazis.
Reagan said the museum “will examine the nature and meaning of the continuing curse that is anti-Semitism.”
“I think all of us here are aware of those, even among our own countrymen, who have dedicated themselves to the disgusting task of minimizing or even denying the truth of the Holocaust,” he said.
“This act of intellectual genocide must not go unchallenged and those who advance these views must be held up to the scorn and wrath of all good and thinking people,” he said.
“We know that the United Nations, whose peacekeepers were honored only last week for their service to the world, has yet to repeal its infamous resolution equating Zionism and racism,” the President said. “We know where such intellectual infamy can lead.”