The Federal Inter-Agency Holocaust Remembrance Program started at the Department of Education in 1994 to commemorate the Days of Remembrance, which is an annual, national, and civic commemoration of the Holocaust. Our purpose is to educate federal employees, students, and the general public about the Holocaust. This genocidal event began in 1933 when Adolph Hitler became Chancellor of Nazi Germany and concluded in 1945 when World War II ended. The Nazi regime attempted to eliminate various groups through extermination in concentration camps, such as 6 million Jewish people, but also 5 million people who included Soviet prisoners of war (3.5 million), Jehovah's Witnesses, Romani or Sinti people (more generally known as Gypsies), homosexuals, Freemasons, political opponents, people with disabilities and mental illness, trade unionists, clergymen, and non-Jewish Poles. However, our Holocaust program also tries to educate people about other acts of genocide around the world, such as what has happened in Rwanda and Sudan by inviting guest speakers who survived those killings. We want people to learn and discuss the Holocaust and other genocide events in order to know that these events occurred and to prevent similar tragedies from happening in the future.

Our program educates people by having two or three guest speakers who are Holocaust survivors, rescuers, liberators, resisters, witnesses or relatives of these individuals to talk about their experiences in a speech or by having a moderator ask each them questions. Their stories teach what can happen if prejudice, hate, and intolerance against any individual or group of people are not challenged by each one of us.

This event has expanded over the years since it began in 1994. Our first program had Madeleine M. Kunin, then Deputy Secretary of Education, as its principal speaker. What started out as one federal department putting on this commemoration now includes the combined contributions of some 25 federal departments and agencies. We continue to educate federal employees, but now include Washington Metropolitan area students and the general public. Our event is held each year at a local theater or hall, is free, and welcomes everyone to attend.