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June 30, 2000


FBI Trains New Agents on Holocaust

By Michael J. Sniffen
Associated Press Writer


WASHINGTON -- The FBI has begun teaching its new agents how a failure by police to protect citizen rights helped produce the Holocaust in which 6 million Jews, as well as other minorities and political dissidents were murdered by the Nazis.

The training segment for agents-to-be at the FBI Academy began last month and was announced Friday by FBI Director Louis J. Freeh; Sara J. Bloomfield, director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League.

"We do this early on in their training ... to remind them of the horror and evil which can result from not just a government, but particularly law enforcement, abandoning its mission to protect people and becoming the engine of oppression," Freeh said.

The trainees are given a guided tour of the Holocaust Museum here and instruction about Adolf Hitler's use of the police in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s to round up Jews, political opponents and other targeted groups.

There is a classroom discussion and then trainees must write an essay on the question: "Of what relevance is this history to you as a human being and a law enforcement official?"

After the first session, one student wrote, "It has taught me that making sure our Constitution is strictly followed should be a number one priority throughout my career." Another said: "It will help me remember my greatest duty to preserve human life and protect the civil rights of every man, woman and child."

Bloomfield, the museum director, said, "Much of the Holocaust was perpetrated or supported by trained professionals who were 'doing their job.' The museum's program with the FBI challenges law enforcement agents to examine the moral dimensions of their professions."

The topic of police complicity in the Holocaust has been a concern of Freeh's for some time. In 1994, over objections from the State Department and the U.S. ambassador to Poland, Freeh visited the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz during a European trip and gave a speech at Jagellonian University in nearby Krakow, Poland, on the police role in Hitler's oppression.

Freeh researched and wrote the speech himself with help from Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.

"We must be morally responsible for what we do," Freeh said Friday. "We have to understand and protect not just the people we serve, but the moral and ethical values and human dignities that are so important to us all."

Foxman applauded the FBI's commitment to "law enforcement's critical role as defenders of the Constitution and guardians of individual rights" and said the training "has tremendous potential to impact the next generation of law enforcement leadership."

At its International Law Enforcement Academy in Budapest, Hungary, the FBI has taught a course in human dignity to more than 1,000 police officers from former communist countries.

© Copyright 2000 The Associated Press


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