JERUSALEM (May. 5)
A two-minute siren brought Israel to a standstill Monday, as the country remembered the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust.
In Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremonies held around the country, the names of the victims were read aloud as part of the traditional idea that “every person has a name.”
Most other countries held the observance a day earlier than Israel, where the commemoration was postponed so as not to conflict with the end of Shabbat.
Commemorative events for the day known in Hebrew as Yom Hashoah were held in New York and in other cities across the United States.
In Berlin, local Jews, politicians and Holocaust survivors gathered Sunday to read aloud the names of the nearly 56,000 Berlin Jews murdered by the Nazis. It took more than 24 hours to read all the names.
In Poland, some 2,500 young Jews held an annual March of the Living at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Kaddish was read at a memorial site located near the former death camp’s crematorium.
In the Knesset in Jerusalem, government members and legislators read out the names of family members and relatives who had perished in the Holocaust.
The president, prime minister, Knesset speaker and Israel’s chief rabbi also took part in the presentation of a new Torah scroll in the Knesset synagogue.
The scroll was dedicated to the 1.5 million children who were murdered in the death camps.
The remembrance of these children was the theme of Israel’s observances this year.
When Israel began its observance of Holocaust Remembrance Day with a somber state ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, both President Ezer Weizman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu touched on the theme of children in their addresses.
“The cry of the infant is still calling out, even if we cannot hear it,” Weizman said. “There were some who died even before they were weaned of their mothers’ milk, before they said their first words, before they stood.”
He warned that now, more than a half century after the end of World War II, it was still impossible to say that certain regimes, armed with weapons of mass destruction and unhindered by morality, would not bring the world to ruin again.
Weizman stressed that it was important not only to remember those who had died, but to identify and empathize with those who had survived.
“We pass on the legacy to our children, not to instill sorrow in them, nor to detract from the love and happiness in their lives, but so that they can build a life of security, justice, faith and hope in Israel.”
Netanyahu called for a strong Israel to achieve peace and hope for future generations.
“It is impossible not to wonder about the potential artists, scientists and scholars that were among the murdered children; about the leaders, the generals and the physicians stolen from us in their death,” Netanyahu said.
“Today we promise them, survivors and victims alike, that we shall dedicate our lives to ensure that the danger of annihilation never hovers over our children’s heads, that they shall never know terror or fear, nor die an untimely death.
“Today we vow that we will maintain a strong Israel, that we shall achieve peace for our people and that we shall give our children and grandchildren security and hope.”
Six torches, representing the six million Jews who died, were lit Sunday night by individuals who had survived the Holocaust as children.
Avraham Burg, chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, speaking Monday in Jerusalem, said almost all European nations still had Jewish property looted by the Nazis.
He called on all of Europe — not just Switzerland, which has gotten most of the attention in recent months — to examine its wartime behavior.