Lerman, who passed away at the age of 88, was a native of Poland who escaped his Nazi captors and fought as a partisan until liberated by the Soviet Army. He then came to this country, where he built a family and a business in southern New Jersey. But he will be most remembered for his role in creating — and then sustaining — the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
Lerman served for 23 years on the advisory board of the federal Commission on the Holocaust, and was its chairman at the time of the opening of the museum in 1993. As much as any other person, it was Lerman's tenacity, persuasiveness and skill that helped create an institution that has been visited by an estimated 25 million people and become a fixture of our capital.
Lerman's achievement — and those of the many other people who helped establish this museum, and who work to educate the world about the Shoah — was that the power of memory has proven to be greater than that of hate.
What the Nazis wanted was not only to erase the accomplishments of the Jews, but of their own crimes against them as well. Survivors like Lerman saw to it that, once again, Hitler's executioners and collaborators were defeated. While his voice is now silent, his victory — along with so many other survivors long gone — will ensure that the memory of the Shoah is never forgotten.