ALIZA VITIS-SHOMRON holocaust survivor 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy Gafni-Klein PR Boutique)
Aliza Vitis-Shomron on Thursday vividly recalled her brush with death on the eve
of her liberation from the Nazis in 1945.
The survivor, who spoke on a
panel at the Kibbutz Yad Mordechai Holocaust Museum the day before the world
marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day, said a rumor had spread among the
group of Jewish prisoners she was part of in Poland that they were about to be
Rather than surrendering them to the Allies closing in from the
east and west, the prisoners feared their captors were planning to plunge their
train into the Elbe River and drown everyone.
“Panic and fear spread
quickly,” recalled the Polish-born Israeli who survived the Warsaw Ghetto and
the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany. “Just as we were at the point
of despair, two American tanks came rolling down a hill and saved
The feeble Jewish prisoners emerged from the train and embraced the
stunned soldiers of the US 30th Armored Division.
“We were crying with
joy,” she said. “The American soldiers didn’t know what to do and they showered
us with chocolates and cigarettes.”
Vitis-Shomron said she did not feel
that she had defeated the Nazis.
“I did not triumph,” said Vitis-Shomron,
an educator who has four great-grandchildren.
“What happened accompanies
me, but I try to live and live well. I try to teach humanitarian values to our
youths. We must never do upon others what was done to us.”
Vitis-Shomron was part of at Yad Mordechai, the kibbutz named after the leader
of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (Mordechai Anielewicz), included Simcha “Kojak”
Rotem, who fought in the uprising, and former defense minister Moshe
It was one of many events held in Israel and around the world
commemorating the remembrance day.
On Wednesday, Israeli Ambassador to
the UN Ron Prosor, American Jewish Committee Executive Director David Harris and
members of the newly formed World Forum of Russian Jewry met at United Nations
headquarters to honor the memory of those killed by the Nazis.
head said the lesson learned from the murder of six million Jews required the
world to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear capabilities.
September, indeed on these grounds, the notorious Holocaust denier, Iranian
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, spoke,” Harris said. “To their credit, several UN
member ambassadors walked out, but, shamefully, the majority stayed in the
General Assembly hall and applauded his remarks.”
The president of the
World Forum of Russian Jewry, Ukrainian businessman Alexander Levin, joined the
call urging the UN to take action against the Islamic Republic.
Holocaust memorial events are planned for Israel and around the world on
Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch, Deputy Foreign Minister
Danny Ayalon and ambassadors from more than a dozen countries including Germany,
the US, Egypt and the Philippines are set to gather at the Massuah Institute for
Holocaust Studies at Kibbutz Tel Yitzhak near Netanya to take part in a memorial
The UN designated January 27, the anniversary of the liberation
of Auschwitz by the Red Army, as International Holocaust Remembrance Day in
2005. It is marked by governments and organizations around the
Israel, however, observes its official Holocaust Remembrance Day
on the 26th of Nissan, the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, according
to the Jewish calendar. Its selection reflects the Jewish state’s preference to
emphasize Jewish resistance to the Nazis.