Six Holocaust survivors are slated to light torches memorializing the 6,000,000
Jews murdered by the Nazis, at the opening Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at
Yad Vashem Sunday night.
The initial survivors chosen were Peretz
Hochman, Otto Dov Pressburger, Dina Ostrover, Eliezer Eizenschmidt, Miriam
Liptcher and Baruch Kopold. However, as Hochman died on Sunday, his widow, Sima,
will represent him. Short videos about each of the lighters will be
The ceremony will also feature speeches by President Shimon Peres
and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the kindling of a memorial torch in the
Holocaust memorial’s Warsaw Ghetto Square by Yad Vashem chairman Avner Shalev,
and remarks by Aliza Vitis-Shomron on behalf of the survivors of the European
Hochman, born as Pavel in Warsaw in 1927, fought in the Polish
underground against the Nazis during World War II. He made aliya in 1946 and was
wounded during the War of Independence while serving in the Palmah’s Negev
“All I wanted was to hurt Germans, to take revenge on them. In a
sense, something within me was already dead, and therefore I was not afraid of
death,” he would later recall, describing his time in the Polish
Kopold, who was born in Iwje, Belarus, in 1923, was the
second of five children.
After the Nazis forced him to cover up the mass
graves containing most of Iwje’s Jews, they sent him to the Lida ghetto. Upon
escaping with several friends, he made his way to the forest and eventually
joined Tuvia Bielski’s Jewish brigade.
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“We would organize ourselves into
groups and plunder trains and villages for food and provisions,” he recalled.
“We were constantly on the move.”
He later escaped from a Soviet work
camp, led a group of Jews on foot from Poland to Italy and made his way to
Israel, where he was drafted into the Hagana for the War of
Pressburger, from Czechoslovakia, was one of the first Jews
to be interned in Auschwitz, and witnessed the first experiments in gassing Jews
to death in that camp.
He was later forced to build the crematorium in
Liptcher, the only survivor of her family, was rendered barren
by experiments conducted by the infamous Dr. Josef Mengele. She has
joined the March of the Living program – which brings teens to Poland – on many
occasions and told her story. Her efforts in smuggling food and clothing to
fellow inmates in Auschwitz saved many lives.
Ostrover, from Stryi,
Ukraine, grew up as the youngest of four children in an Orthodox home. Also the
only survivor of her family, she managed to escape the Nazi death machine by
posing as a Ukrainian, using a forged birth certificate that her uncle obtained.
From June 1943 until the liberation in July 1944, she hid the Jewish couple
Shlomo and Miriam Reinhartz in the attic of the inn where she was
After living in a displaced persons camp in Germany, and later
in Italy, Ostrover made her way to Israel in 1949, following eight months of
detention by the British in Cyprus.
Eizenschmidt, from Luna, Belarus, was
also the only surviving member of his family.
As a member of the
Sonderkommandos tasked by the SS with removing bodies from the gas chambers, he
was involved in the planning of a failed revolt against the camp guards.
Although he revealed nothing under interrogation, his hair turned white
Today he works as a blacksmith.
On Monday there will be
a wreath-laying ceremony at Yad Vashem immediately following the nationwide
memorial siren at 10 a.m.
Among the participants will be Netanyahu,
Peres, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Supreme Court President Asher D. Grunis,
Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, the deputy chief of the IDF General
Staff Maj.- Gen. Yair Naveh, police Insp.- Gen. Yohanan Danino, Jerusalem Mayor
Nir Barkat, and representatives of survivor and fighter organizations, as well
as youth delegations from across the country.
A recitation of the names
of victims will take place at the Knesset at 11 a.m.
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