They tried to kill us. We are here.
The official Opening Ceremony for Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day took place on Wednesday, May 1, 2019, in Warsaw Ghetto Square of Yad Vashem, on Mount of Remembrance, near Har Herzl in Jerusalem, Israel.
The IDF honor guard posed for photographers before the ceremony.
For the invited guests it is a time to see and greet long time friends.
This year a group of German journalists attended.
After dark, the Israeli flag was lowered to half mast, and a ceremonial flame was lit.
President Reuven Rivlin was the first speaker.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke next.
There were musical interludes, and dramatic readings.
Before each one of the six survivors lit their torch, a short video about their lives was screened.
Each flame represents one million lost souls, murdered in Holocaust.
Meanwhile, the honor guard stood at attention the entire time.
As last year, the Prime Minister went to shake hands with the soldiers in the honor guard.
As last year, while the event was being televised, movement was restricted. (Ok, I thought it was much better this year, maybe because there were fewer foreign photographers?) But as soon as the official program was over, I was able to go up front and take this photo. The honor guard was still at attention, but the rest of us were talking and heading home.
At Yad Vashem, the crowd stood still for HaTikvah.
HaTikvah, The Hope, takes on greater meaning when remembering the past.
The Jerusalem Municipality also marked Holocaust Remembrance Day with a ceremony held in Kikar Safra, Safra Square, the mayor of Jerusalem, Moshe Lion, city council members, survivors, attended the event, which was open to the public. This year the ceremonies were under the theme “War Within a War – the struggle for survival of Jews in the Holocaust.”
Zichron B’Salon, Memories in Living Room, hosted dozens of smaller, parlor meetings in Jerusalem on Holocaust Remembrance Day. In private homes throughout the city of Jerusalem survivors retold their stories in these more intimate groups and settings. President Reuven Rivlin hosted a group in Beit Hanasi on Sunday morning as he has done for the past several years.
Restaurants and entertainment venues were closed at night.
The next morning on May 2, a memorial siren sounded at 10:00 am.
A wreath laying ceremony was held at Yad Vashem.
Organizations, communities, schools, and businesses held programs, with survivors speaking.
The Knesset had a special recitation of names of Nazi victims.
Flags on public buildings flew at half-mast and memorial flames were displayed.
Child survivors are aging. We cannot change the past. Now that they have grandchildren and great-grandchildren, they are celebrating. The grandchildren and great-grandchildren are the future. “This is our revenge,” I have heard over and over. They are celebrating life. We are here.
So many stories. So many memories of tragedies and miracles.
Six million murdered by Nazis is too hard to comprehend.
Where were the civilized countries? Canada. British in Palestine. The United States.
All turned their backs.
To conclude, one memory, from one friend from Kristalnacht, the night the world turned dark.