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Israel Observes Memorial Day for the 6,000,000 Jews Killed by Eichmann

April 14, 1961
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Sirens sounded throughout Israel at 8 a.m. today to mark two minutes of reverent silence in memory of the 6,000,000 European Jewish victims of nazism as Israel formally observed Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Memorial Day.

All places of entertainment were closed and the trial of Nazi Adolf Eichmann, who is charged with primary responsibility for the killing of the 6,000,000 Jews, was recessed for the period of mourning.

Memorial lights were lit in many thousands of homes to mourn the murder of a member of the family on a day unknown. Thousands of mourners packed Israel’s synagogues for memorial prayers which included the Lamentations from the Tisha B’Av service.

The dedication of a new shrine on a hilltop three miles from Jerusalem was the main event of the ceremonies. The shrine is a group of stone buildings which include a crypt, a memorial hall and a synagogue.

Part of the dedication for the "Tent of Remembrance" was the reinterment of the ashes of an unknown number of victims in the crypt which has a mosaic inlaid floor bearing the names of the 21 most infamous of the Nazi murder camps and ghettoes.

The urn containing the ashes was carried at the head of a long cortege. In front of it walked a cantor who chanted the prayer for the dead. Paratroopers marched behind the large urn which was covered by an Israeli flag.

The Eternal Light was kindled by Rabbi Mordechai Nurock, the oldest member of the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, whose entire family was slaughtered by the Nazis and who initiated in the Knesset the legislation under which Eichmann is on trial.

After the ceremony, Dr. Joseph Burg, Israel’s Welfare Minister, opened a Yad Vashem exhibit commemorating the genocidal deeds of the Nazis. It contained photographs, documents and the yellow Star of David the Nazis forced Jews to wear. Exhibits also were opened in kibbutz Lohamei Hagetaot in the Galilee and in kibbutz Yad Mordechai in the Negev, two settlements associated with the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.

The Memorial Day observance closed with a ceremony tonight near the Tent of Remembrance attended by President Ben-Zvi, members of the Cabinet and of the Knesset, former partisans and former anti-Nazi fighters.

Education Minister Abba Eban, delivering the principal address at the evening event, said that "never in all recorded history has any family of the human race been over-whelmed by such a tidal wave of grief and havoc as that which beset the Jewish people during the Nazi decade."

The former Ambassador to the United States denounced worldwide expressions of opinion against the preservation and the regular revival of memories of the Nazi massacre. He warned that "memory is the guardian of conscience. Whoever flees from his memory liberates himself from the full dictates of his conscience."

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