Peres and Israeli youth hear memorial service in Treblinka

100s of Israeli high school students, gather with IDF units, Holocaust survivors, Presidents Peres and Poland's Lech Kaczynski.

Peres 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Peres 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Treblinka, the extermination camp in which more than 800,000 Jews were murdered became a symbol for Jewish continuity on Monday. Hundreds of Israeli high school students, carrying Israeli flags and wearing sweatshirts emblazoned with the Star of David and the word "Israel," gathered with units of the various branches of the IDF, Holocaust survivors and Presidents Shimon Peres and Lech Kaczynski of Poland to participate in a memorial ceremony for the 6,000,000 Jews murdered in the Holocaust. The two underlying messages in the impressive ceremony performed mainly by the youngsters, were "Memory" and "Never again!" Kaczynski and Peres lit the fifth and sixth memorial beacons in memory of the dead, after which each of them addressed the crowd. Kaczynski, who lit the beacon in honor of Righteous Gentiles who risked their lives to save Jews, asked that they always be remembered. Most of the Jews who were murdered in Treblinka were Polish citizens, he said, adding that the only reason that they were killed was because they were Jews. "Since my childhood, I have always known that Jews were killed here," said Kaczynski. Poland, which pays its enduring respect to all the victims of the Holocaust, wants to do everything possible to intensify its relations with Israel, Kaczynski declared. "It's very difficult for us to be here, in this place, where so many Jews were killed," said Peres, who made a point of emphasizing that it was the Nazis, and not the Poles, who were to blame. "We will never allow it to happen again," he vowed, and mused over how different things might have been had their been Jewish soldiers then, such as those that Israel has now. "It would not have happened, and we will not allow it to happen again," he said. "We will not allow wild animals to run riot."