Bond visits HMLC, talks on genocide


During brief remarks delievered on the Millstone campus last week, U.S. Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond spoke about the importance of understanding and preventing genocide.

“One of the lessons of the Holocaust Museum and this particular Bosnian exhibit is that we shall never forget,” Bond said. “We shall never forget the tragedy of man’s inhumanity to man.”


Bond’s words were delivered during a tour of the Holocaust Museum’s “Prijedor: Lives from the Bosnian Genocide” exhibit. The exhibit documents the “ethnic cleansing” that resulted in the murders of thousands of Bosnians during the breakup of the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. According to figures from the Jewish Federation, St. Louis is home to about 50,000 Bosnians, who largely settled here as refugees from the tragedy in their own land.

Bond issued a welcome to Bosnian visitors who were on hand and told them that they have come to a nation that has taken in people from around the world.

“We truly regret the circumstances that brought many of our Bosnian friends to St. Louis but we are very honored and pleased to have you with us,” he said. “This is a great country which is strengthened by the continued renewal of new peoples, new ideas and new talents. Despite the horrors that you have endured, you have the spirit and determination to go on. Your presence here enriches us culturally and economically.”

Exhibit advisor Patrick McCarthy said that the local Bosnian community, some of whom were on hand for the visit, had been very supportive of the exhibit.

“We have a special responsibility and opportunity to understand the reasons why so many Bosnians came here,” he said. “What were the circumstances that brought them here? This exhibit offers us the opportunity to do that.”

Amir Karadzic, chairperson of the Union of Citizens of the Municipality of Prijedor, was among those who spoke during the visit.

“This exhibit is important not just for Bosnians who live in St. Louis but for the entire Bosnian community,” he said.

Barry Rosenberg, executive vice-president of the Jewish Federation of Greater St. Louis said that while memorializing the Holocaust was a “sacred obligation of the Jewish community,” it was also a part of the HMLC’s mission to do more than that.

“That’s why we built this museum 12 years ago,” Rosenberg said, “but we always intended to do more than memorialize our tragedy. We wanted to teach and to inspire others so that we might prevent further genocide and promote tolerance, human rights and social justice for all. Sadly, the horrors and the lessons of Jewish experience were not enough to prevent the tragedy that befell the Bosnian community.”

Bond echoed Rosenberg’s sentiments.

“We’ve set up international tribunals. We’ve worked hard to prevent it,” he said. “The United States prides itself on trying to be a force for decency to prevent genocides, to prevent slaughter. In this case, NATO and the United States forces came to the rescue too late for many of these people.”

Published Jan. 23, 2008