NEW YORK (Apr. 22)
Holocaust survivors warned of the current rise of anti-Semitism in Europe and were urged to share the horrors of their experiences at Yom Hashoah ceremonies here Sunday.
More than 2,700 Holocaust survivors and their families filled Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall for the 47th anniversary of Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The observation marked the 47th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising by Jewish freedom fighters against the Nazis. Yom Hashoah ceremonies were held around the world Sunday, including for the first time in East Germany.
With the rapid changes in Eastern Europe, societies are again in states of disarray, said Benjamin Meed, president of the Warsaw Ghetto Resistance Organization, the principal sponsor of the commemoration here.
“Again a scapegoat is needed, and again the finger is pointed at the Jews,” Meed said. “Everywhere the Soviet empire has collapsed, native nationalism replaces communism.
“We must insist the drunkenness of freedom does not express itself in anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism,” he said.
Concerns about a united Germany were raised by several speakers.
“We survivors remember all too well a unified Germany,” Meed said. “From the East and the West, including Austria, they came to murder us.”
German Jewish survivor Ernest Michel, whose family could trace itself back 300 years in Germany, said a united Germany must pledge to be “steadfast in stopping any growth in anti-Semitism and to always recognize the special relationship of Jews and Israel.
SURVIVORS ARCED TO SHARE STORIES
“1 speak with the moral authority of a German-born Jewish survivor,” said Michel, executive vice president emeritus of the United Jewish Appeal-Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York.
The ceremony included the lighting of hundreds of yarzheit candles by three dozen black-cloaked women survivors, while a chorus from a Hebrew day school sang in Yiddish and English “Es Brent” (It Burns), a song about the burning of the shtetl.
Ann Oster, a daughter and daughter-in-law of Holocaust survivors, admonished survivors to share their horrible secrets with others.
“We want your memories, your eyewitness accounts,” Oster said. “Protect us no longer.
“You survivors arc the only ones to speak for your Moishes, your Shloimies, your Rivkes, who were brutally ripped from your arms,” Oster said.
Moshe Arad, Israel’s ambassador to Washington, said it is “symbolically moving, historically appropriate and politically meaningful” that the new Eastern European democracies of Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia have renewed their tics with the Jewish state, “a refuge to so many survivors of the Holocaust.”
But Arad, a Holocaust survivor from Romania, called the polices of the Soviet Union “unsettled and contradictory.”
Moscow has urged Syria to be less aggressive toward Israel; has allowed increased cultural, educational and communal freedom for Soviet Jews; and, most important, has liberalized Jewish emigration.
But the increased freedoms have been accompanied by the rise of open anti-Semitism and the Soviet government’s continuation of supplying arms to Syria, Iraq and Libya, Arad said.
New York Mayor David Dinkins said good people must prevent the spread of evil and hate. “Six million people condemn us from the grave if we do not,” he said.