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Bill Clinton likens "sickness" of the Holocaust to current events

At the 20th anniversary of the opening of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., former President Bill Clinton warned that the "sickness" that the Nazis spread in World War II is still a threat around the world.

"I ask you to think about how the historic suffering and slaughter of the Holocaust reflects a human disease that takes different forms - the idea that our differences are more important than our common humanity," Mr. Clinton said at the museum Monday, where he was joined by Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, about 775 other Holocaust survivors and about 5,000 people overall to commemorate the anniversary.

"It is still the major cause of heartbreak around the world, as we saw in Boston at the marathon, and it is still the biggest threat to our children and grandchildren reaping the full promise of an interdependent world," he continued. "You know the truth. You have enshrined it here. You must continue to work to give it to all humankind."

Since Mr. Clinton was on hand for the museum's opening in 1993, about 35 million people from all over the world have visited it. The museum itself was designed to convey a sense of discomfort, as CBS News' Rita Braver reported on "CBS Sunday Morning" earlier this month. The museum's collection and conservation center holds about 16,000 artifacts from the Holocaust, such as uniforms and badges from concentration camps.

Mr. Clinton said Monday that the museum serves as "our conscience." He asked its curators and those present to "make sure that if the... memories fade away, that the records the pictures and the stories never die."

The former president said "the sickness that the Nazis gave to Germany... is very alive all across the world." In addition to the Boston Marathon bombing, he cited the rape and murder of a young woman in New Delhi, India; the story of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager shot by the Taliban; and other recent events to show "the virus is taking different forms... all rooted in the idea that the only thing that matters is our difference."

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