At Hanukkah lightings from NY to Moscow, Holocaust survivors keep memories alive
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At Hanukkah lightings from NY to Moscow, Holocaust survivors keep memories alive

Gathering in cities around the world to light candles together, those who survived seek to share horrors and stories of resilience

Survivors of the Holocaust and others at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York December 22, 2019, to recognize International Holocaust Survivors Night, one of several events held around the world. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
Survivors of the Holocaust and others at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York December 22, 2019, to recognize International Holocaust Survivors Night, one of several events held around the world. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

PARIS — Holocaust survivors in several cities around the world are lighting candles for Hanukkah together, as Jewish community leaders try to keep firsthand memories of the Nazi horrors alive.

An 86-year-old man in Moscow described being forced by Nazi occupiers into a ghetto as a child. Elderly survivors in New York shared stories Sunday at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty.

Survivors also gathered in Munich, and other ceremonies are planned Monday at the Western Wall in Jerusalem and in Paris. The events were organized by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.

“Keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive is a crucial and increasingly difficult task, and creating a connection with the remaining survivors is the best and most sustainable way to do that,” Charlotte Knobloch, a Holocaust survivor who now leads Munich’s Jewish community, said in a statement.

Holocaust survivor WWII veteran Mikhail Spectr, 86, shows a photo of himself in Soviet Army officer’s uniform to the media at the annual Hanukkah Menorah Lighting Ceremony in Moscow, Russia, December 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Hand-in-hand with a rabbi, survivor Mikhail Spektr said a prayer and lit a menorah in Moscow. He then sang songs for a crowd of people from Russia’s Jewish community, accompanied by a fiddler and accordion player.

As a child when the war began, Spektr said, he didn’t realize what was going on.

When the Nazis came, he recalled his grandfather telling him that they were “a civilized nation, they wouldn’t do anything to us.”

Survivors of the Holocaust and others listen to remarks as they gather at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York December 22, 2019, to recognize International Holocaust Survivors Night, one of several events held around the world. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

But he and his family were taken to a ghetto on Ukraine’s western edge, and held there from 1941 until the Red Army liberated it in 1944.

“We were all sleeping on the floor. We lived on the territory (of the ghetto), isolated from the city by barbed wire. The entrance was guarded by Nazi soldiers and policemen,” he said. “People who dared (to leave) were indeed shot.”

Dozens of survivors also gathered Sunday in New York, some wearing winter caps, others wearing kippas. Some smiled as they shared a meal; others looked on pensively as they listened to speeches and songs.

Survivors of the Holocaust and others gather at the Museum of Jewish Heritage as the Statue of Liberty can be seen through a window of the museum, December 22, 2019, in New York, as they recognize International Holocaust Survivors Night, one of several events held around the world. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

Renowned Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfeld, scheduled to speak at the Paris event Monday, noted that some Holocaust survivors are living in poverty, and called on others to remember and support them.

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