President Reuven Rivlin speaks at Yad Vashem on April 11, 2018.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The Jewish people does not expect justice from Europe, but it does expect partnership, President Reuven Rivlin said on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day at the opening ceremony at Yad Vashem.
“Justice cannot grow from the land on which our brothers and sisters were burned,” the president said, at the state ceremony marking the start of Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day. “We do expect to find in Europe a true partnership, with which we will invest in education, research institutes, commemoration and memory, learn what happened, and promise – ‘Never again.’
“We do not expect the European countries to pass on to the younger generation a sense of guilt; we do expect and demand that they pass on the torch of memory and responsibility. Those who are willing to look boldly at their past, to grapple with the antisemitism and racism that continue to rear their heads today, will find allies among us, determined partners in paving the road that leads from memory to the future,” the president said.
Rivlin is set to lead the annual International March of the Living in Poland on Thursday.
“There, on the soil of Europe, on the ashes of our brothers and sisters, we will say simply: There are Holocaust survivors and Holocaust deniers, and the difference between them is the truth,” he said.
“The citizens of Poland, as well as the citizens of France, the Soviet Union and other countries, were killed and murdered by Nazi Germany in a cruel war during the Second World War,” the president continued. “We, the Jews, were slaughtered in the Holocaust. A Holocaust whose purpose was to wipe the Jewish people off the face of the Earth. A Holocaust that took place not only in the concentration and extermination camps but in the killing pits, in the ghettos and pogroms. A Holocaust that included a massacre, murder and death with the torture of a million and a half children and babies, whose only sin was to be born Jewish.”
Remembrance, Rivlin said, is the Jewish people’s response to the Nazis.
“We will never extend a hand to those who deny the truth or those who try to make it disappear,” he said. “Not by individuals or organizations, by party leaders or heads of state. Germany did not buy the Jews’ forgiveness, just as no nation could legislate it to be forgotten,” he added, in an apparent reference to Poland’s controversial “Holocaust law.”
After Rivlin addressed the attendees, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a speech; and following that, Holocaust survivors from six countries lit torches in memory of the six million Jews who were killed in the Holocaust.
Polish Holocaust survivor Zipora Nahir spoke on behalf of survivors.
A wide range of dignitaries, survivors, children of survivors and their families took part in the ceremony.
This year’s theme, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the state’s independence, is “70 Years of Remembering and Building: Holocaust Survivors and the State of Israel.”
On Thursday morning, a siren will sound for two minutes, beginning at 10 o’clock, and the country will come to a standstill.Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.
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