Thursday, January 28, 2010

Holocaust Memorial Day - 65 Years Since Liberation

Auschwitz was liberated 65 years agho this week, and Holocaust Memorial Day has gained significance in the international arena. Jews commemorate it in the spring, but Jan. 27th has become an important date on the calendar of nations, especially this year.

President Shimon Peres delivered a historic speech to members of the German parliament in Berlin on Wednesday afternoon to mark the occasion. According to this report on Y-net, the German parliament heard a translation of the speech, which was carried out in Hebrew. Peres said the Kaddish prayer in honor of the Holocaust victims, which include his grandparents, who were burned alive in their town's synagogue.

"In the State of Israel and across the world, Holocaust survivors are slowly retiring from the world of the living. Their number is reduced every day. At the same time, those who were involved in the most despicable work on earth – genocide – are still living on German soil. Please do all you can to bring them to justice," Peres said.

Peres went on to direct his words at Iran. "We are now left with the crucial lesson: Never again. No more racist doctrine, no more feelings of superiority, no more so-called divine authority to incite, murder, break the law, deny God and the Shoah."

Peres added, "The threats to destroy a people and a state are being made on the backdrop of a development of mass destruction weapons by unreasonable hands, with an insane mind, without speaking the truth."

The president stressed that "in order to prevent another Holocaust we must have peaceful relations with other nations and have respect for the particular culture and universal values, in order to reprint the Ten Commandments once and again."

Here is the full text of Peres' stirring, historic speech. Also here - some more excerpts:

"I stand here before you, as the President of the State of Israel, the home of the Jewish People."

"I can see in my mind's eye, at this very moment, the imposing image of my deeply respected grandfather, Rabbi Zvi the town where I was born, Vishniev in Belarus."

"When the Nazis came to Vishniev, they ordered all the members of the community to congregate in the synagogue. My grandfather marched in front, together with his family, wrapped in the same prayer shawl in which I enveloped myself as a child. The doors were locked from the outside and the wooden structure was torched. And the only remains of the whole community were embers. There were no survivors."

"If we, the Jews, constituted a terrible threat in the eyes of Hitler's regime, this was not a military threat, but rather a moral threat that stood opposite their desire that denied our faith that every man is born in the image of God, that we are all equal in the eyes of God, and that all men are equal."

"As a Jew, I always carry the pain of the Holocaust endured by my brothers and sisters. As an Israeli, I regret the tragic delay in the establishment of the Jewish state that left my people with no safe harbor. As a grandfather, I cannot come to terms with the loss of one-and-a-half million children - the greatest human and creative potential that could have changed Israel's destiny."

See also the text of the address by Prime Minister Netanyahu at Auschwitz (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Here is the JPost account: Netanyahu at Auschwitz: Never again.

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