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Israel Links Past and Present in Marking Auschwitz Liberation

Ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp took place in Israel on Sunday, hours after a terrorist attack in the center of the country claimed at least 18 lives.

At a service at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, Education Minister Amnon Rubinstein filled in for Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was visiting the scene of the attack. Rabin’s message tied together the past and the present.

“Today, once again, monsters in human form have tried to destroy us and the chance for peace,” Rubinstein said, reading Rabin’s statement. “To our enemies we say, `One thousand attacks will not make us surrender. We will continue to build our home here. We have no other.’ “

A railway freight car used by the Nazis to transport Jews to the concentration camps was put on display as a “Memorial to the Deportations.” The railway car was given to Israel by the Polish government, and designed into a monument by architect Moshe Safdie.

Samuel Pisar, chairman of the Friends of Yad Vashem, France, and author of “Blood and Hope,” told Israel Television what the monument meant to him.

“Even today, maybe we are hearing echoes, explosions, of Auschwitz in our midst,” he said. At least 1 million Jews were murdered in Auschwitz.

One survivor of the Nazi death camp told Israel Radio she hoped the memorial would serve as a message to future generations. “I only can hope that the future generations will not forget the suffering of those who survived and kept holy the memory of those who did not. We have tried to survive with all our strength in order to tell what happened to our people,” she said.

A gathering of thousands of Holocaust survivors was later held in the Jerusalem International Convention center. Survivors inscribed their names and tattoo numbers in a special book and received special medals.

Booths were also set up to help relatives and friends relocate each other.

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