A day of reflection and tribute as Israel remembers the Holocaust
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A day of reflection and tribute as Israel remembers the Holocaust

Seventy years after the end of World War II, Israelis observe the annual day of memorial with ceremonies and a 2-minute siren

Visitors seen at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum in Jerusalem on January 27, 2015 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Visitors seen at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum in Jerusalem on January 27, 2015 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Israel was marking the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day on Thursday, 70 years after the end of World War II.

A two-minute siren will be heard throughout the country at 10 a.m., during which Israelis will observe a moment of silence for the six million Jews who perished in Europe under Nazi rule.

The siren will be followed by ceremonies honoring the victims of the Holocaust. The central event will take place at Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem museum, where dignitaries will place wreaths by a monument commemorating the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. A ceremony will also be held at the Knesset.

In the afternoon, thousands of people are expected to take part in the annual March of the Living event at the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp in Poland.

The day’s events will officially end with evening ceremonies at Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetaot (Ghetto Fighters) and Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, named after those who resisted the Nazis in Warsaw and the leader of the uprising, Mordechai Anielewicz.

On Wednesday President Reuven Rivlin said the State of Israel was not established as compensation for the Holocaust and that both past horrors and present threats would not “dictate our lives.”

President Reuven Rivlin speaks at a ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, as Israel marks the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 15, 2015. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
President Reuven Rivlin speaks at a ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, as Israel marks the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 15, 2015. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Speaking at the opening ceremony for Holocaust Remembrance Day at Yad Vashem, the president’s hopeful tone diverged sharply from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s fierce criticism that the emerging Iran deal indicated the world had not learned the lessons of the Holocaust.

“We will not belittle any threats. Nor belittle shameful statements calling for the extinction of the Jewish people. Yet, while we are prepared, we are not scared,” Rivlin said. “The horrors of the past and the threats of the present, will not dictate our lives, nor shape the lives of our children. They will not dim our hopes for a future of creation and prosperity.”

The president also expressed his deep appreciation for the survivors of the Holocaust who rebuilt their lives in Israel, stressing that the strength and determination exemplified by the survivors continues to inspire the leaders and citizens of the Jewish state.

Following Rivlin, Netanyahu addressed the crowd at the ceremony and compared Iran’s violent and expansionist aspirations in the Middle East to the Nazi campaign to conquer Europe during World War II.

The main lesson of the Second World War, for democracies, is that they cannot turn a blind eye to tyrannical regimes,” Netanyahu said.

“Appeasement towards these regimes increases their aggressiveness,” the Israeli leader continued. “If this aggressiveness is not curbed in time, humanity may find itself in far greater wars in the future.”

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