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FCC chairman recalls relatives killed at Auschwitz

By Ed O'Keefe

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski marked the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Poland's Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp by recalling the death of his great grandmother at the site.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski

Genachowski led an American delegation that included Michelle Obama's chief of staff Susan Sher and U.S. Ambassador to Poland Lee Feinstein. Speaking at official events marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the chairman said his family has roots across Eastern Europe.

"Genachowski is a name pronounced easily in this part of the world," he joked during his speech.

He recalled his great grandmother, Bella Rabinovitch, who decided to leave Belgium for Auschwitz-Birkenau under Nazi pressure. She left the country with roughly 1,300 others on a three day train trip that arrived on April 19, 1942, Genachowski said.

Records indicate she was gassed on arrival, he said.

During his speech Genchowski also seemed to draw parallels between Nazi oppression and information control and the recent spat between Google and the Chinese government:

Let us fight so that technology is used to shine a light on oppression and intolerance, to illuminate persecution and dehumanization, to take oppression and mass murder out of the shadows.
We know that the Nazis sought to shut off from the rest of the world the unspeakable killing that went on here. We know that for the Nazis control of the flow of information was an imperative, an SS boot on the free flow of news.
Let us fight for freedom. For fundamental freedoms disregarded too often and tragically in the 20th century, fundamental freedoms that, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has urged, we must enshrine as core principles in the 21st century -- freedom of expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, freedom from fear, and freedom to connect.
The freedom of information is essential, while also no substitute for the power of actual places to teach and instruct. It is a moral imperative to preserve Auschwitz and other physical sites of remembrance, because they shock us into an understanding that ideas alone cannot.

Genachowski is a close friend of President Obama who helped raise millions for his 2008 presidential campaign. He took the reigns of the FCC in June.

More news on the day's ceremonies in the AP video below:

By Ed O'Keefe  | January 27, 2010; 5:04 PM ET
Categories:  Administration, Agencies and Departments  
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