Speaking after Herzog, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says he is holding a single “witness sheet,” an official Yad Vashem document that outlines the basic biographical details of a Jew who was murdered in the Holocaust.
Yad Vashem focuses on individual losses to drive home the genocide’s tragedies, which are impossible to grasp at scale, and seeks to name as many of the 6 million victims as possible.
Bennett says the people who filled out a witness sheet were usually family and friends of the deceased.
He read out the details of a young girl with the family name Reich, and no first name, who was listed as being both born and killed in Auschwitz.
“Circumstances of her death: taken immediately from her mother.”
“Age at the time of death: half an hour,” Bennett says. The sheet was filled out by her mother, Irene Reich.
“The Holocaust is an unprecedented event in human history. I take the trouble to say this because as the years pass, more and more severe events are compared to the Holocaust,” Bennett says.
“But no, even the most serious wars today are not the Holocaust and are not like the Holocaust,” he adds. “No event in history, cruel as it may have been, compares to the destruction of Europe’s Jews at the hands of the Nazis and their collaborators.”
Bennett says the lesson to take from the Holocaust is to “rely only on ourselves. To be strong and never apologize for our existence or success.”
“Building the State of Israel, the Jewish state in the land of Israel, is the victory over those who strove to destroy us. Let’s all of us hold fast to it,” he says.
He also issues a call for national unity.
“Today, thank God, in the State of Israel there is one army, one government, one Knesset and one people — the people of Israel,” he says.