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Holocaust Remembrance Day marked around the world


Poland

Holocaust Remembrance Day marked around the world

Thousands of young people have taken party in the March of the Living at the site of the former Auschwitz death camp.

People from many countries joined joined around 10,000 Jewish and Polish youth on the march, which started in the late morning and followed a three-kilomtre route from the camp’s infamous “Arbeit Macht Frei” gate to the site at Birkenau which housed the camp’s main gas chambers.

What is the march of the living?

It is an educational project organised by the March of the Living international association.

Mainly focused on Jewish school youth and students worldwide, it arranges visits to Jewish extermination sites created by the Nazis in Poland during the Second World War.

The first march took place in 1988 and has been an annual event since 1996.

Auschwitz-Birkenau

Around 1.1 million people died in the death camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau. The vast majority of those that perished were Jews, but ethnic Poles, Roma and prisoners of many other nations were also among those who perished.

What happened in Israel?

Israel came to a standstill on Monday as a two-minute siren wailed in remembrance of the Holocaust’s six million victims.

Pedestrians stood heads-bowed where they stopped and traffic pulled over on streets and major highways.

In homes and businesses, people stopped what they were doing to pay homage to the victims of the Nazi genocide, in which it is estimated a third of the global Jewish population died.

Why did this happen?

It is the centrepiece of Israel’s annual Holocaust Remembrance Day held in memory of those who were systematically killed in Nazi Germany during the Second World War.

Ceremonies

A wreath-laying ceremony has been held at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, with Israeli leaders and Holocaust survivors present.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other leaders have publicly recited names of those who were killed.

Other ceremonies, prayers and musical performances took place in schools, community centres and army bases around the country.

The context

The state of Israel was established in 1948, three years after the end of the war.

Hundreds of thousands of concentration camp survivors of fled there.

Around 160,000 elderly survivors remain, with a similar number worldwide.

Safeguarding memories

The central theme of this year’s commemorations at Yad Vashem was “Restoring Their Identities: The Fate of the Individual During the Holocaust.”

There is a call for the public to share testimony and provide more names of those who perished. Yad Vashem’s Shoah Victims’ Names Project has collected over 4,700,000 names of the victims.

What Benjamin Netanyahu said

Netanyahu spoke at the main ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial. He issued a stark warning to Israel’s adversaries.

“Iran and Islamic State (sic) want to destroy us and a hatred for Jews is being directed towards the Jewish state today,” Netanyahu said.

“From being a defenceless people, we have become a state with a defensive capacity that is among the strongest in the world,” he went on.