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“We Remember:” Israel Marks International Holocaust Memorial Day

January 27, 2017

by: Ilse Posselt

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Photos of people around the world holding up the words “We Remember” projected on the grounds of Auschwitz-Birkenau

Friday, 27 January 2017 | Today is the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is a day that transcends borders and religions as the world remembers the terrible genocide during which an estimated 6 million Jewish men, women and children were murdered.

On 27 January 1945, Russian forces reached the ‪Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp and opened the gates to the largest Nazi killing center in Europe. Auschwitz has since become a symbol of the Holocaust, representing the depths of evil, cruelty and deprivation. Today, 72 years later, the date continues to echo as a clarion call to remember that which was lost.

This year, the theme of International Holocaust Memorial Day is “How can life go on?”

“The aftermath of the Holocaust and of subsequent genocides continues to raise challenging questions for individuals, communities and nations,” explains the official Holocaust Memorial Day website. “What happens after genocide?” it asks, and what are “our own responsibilities in the wake of such a crime. There are few known answers.”

The theme chosen for 2017 echoes the words of author and Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel, “For the survivor death is not the problem. Death was an everyday occurrence. We learned to live with death. The problem is to adjust to life, to living. You must teach us about living.”

Nearly 60 years after the terrible days of World War II and its unspeakable repercussions for European Jewry, a number of those who lived through the nightmare drafted a Survivor’s Declaration. 

“The Age of Holocaust Survivors is drawing to a close,” it reads. “Before long no one will be left to say I was there, I saw, I remember what happened. All that will be left will be books of literature and research, pictures and films, and multitudinous testimony. The Holocaust, which established the standard for absolute evil, is the universal heritage of all civilized people.”

To assist in creating eternal remembrance in the run up to this year’s memorial, the World Jewish Congress launched the “We Remember” campaign. The initiative had hundreds of thousands of people of all faiths, backgrounds and nationalities sharing images of themselves holding up the words “We Remember” on social media. With some 200,000 contributors from as far as Pakistan and Peru to South Africa and Sweden, the project reached nearly 100 million people around the world.

Participants included Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman as well as high-level European and American law-makers.

Last night, as sunset ushered in the start of International Holocaust Memorial Day, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that “the hatred and intolerance that drove [the Holocaust]” continues to plague the world today. Speaking at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said that although anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe, the largest threat comes from the Middle East. “The greatest danger that we face, of hatred for the Jewish people and the Jewish state… comes from Iran,” he proclaimed. “It comes from the ayatollah regime that is fanning [the] flames [of anti-Semitism] and calling outright for the destruction of the Jewish state.”

The Prime Minister confirmed that he would do whatever necessary to stop Iran from attaining nuclear weapons. “As prime minister of Israel, I will not be silent,” Netanyahu said. “We will take all the measures we need to defend ourselves, and we will take all the measures necessary to prevent Iran from getting the means of mass murder to carry out their horrible plans.”

Netanyahu also had a word of warning for those who wish the Jewish people harm. “The regime that spawned the Holocaust ended up in the dustbin of history.” That should be “a lesson for Iran [and] every enemy of the Jewish people and the Jewish state.”

According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, there are currently roughly 200,000 Holocaust survivors living in Israel. The bureau estimates that by 2020, the population will diminish by 23%.

Posted on January 27, 2017

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 27 January 2017)

Photo Credit: World Jewish Congress/Facebook

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