Jews worldwide remember Holocaust

2012-04-19 20:01

Tel Aviv - Jews around the world on Thursday remembered the 6 million members of their faith who were killed by the Nazis and their European collaborators in World War II.

In Israel, sirens wailed for two minutes at 10:00 (07:00 GMT), at which point the country came to a complete standstill.

Pedestrians and drivers stood silently, many at attention and with heads bowed, on the sidewalks, or on the road, next to their vehicles.

In Poland, about 10 000 Jewish youths from Israel and 30 other countries participated in a three-kilometre march from Auschwitz to Birkenau, the two sections of the largest concentration camp complex during World War II.

Israel traditionally marks it on the 27th day of the Jewish month of Nissan - one week before Israeli Independence Day - to symbolise the birth of the Jewish state after Holocaust.

The annual march at Auschwitz, known as The March of the Living, was this year also attended by US army veterans who took part in the liberation of concentration camps such as Dachau, Buchenwald, Gunskirchen and Mauthausen.

The oldest participating veteran was 94.

According to the Yad Vashem Holocaust institute in Jerusalem, 1.1 million Jews were killed in Auschwitz-Birkenau, in addition to 70 000 Poles, 25 000 gypsies and about 15 000 prisoners of war.

"My grandparents were in Auschwitz and in the ghetto and if they had not been liberated by men like these, I would probably not be here today," said 27-year-old Shani from Israel.

"My grandparents were murdered here in Auschwitz.

"Because the allied soldiers liberated the camp just in time I had a future and can now tell my grandchildren about the Holocaust," added 83-year-old Irving Roth, who as a 15-year-old was freed by US troops after the westward January 1945 death march from Auschwitz to Buchenwald.

Holocaust Remembrance Day began after sunset in Israel on Wednesday, with a state ceremony at Yad Vashem, attended by politicians, foreign diplomats, Holocaust survivors and their relatives.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned in his speech that whoever downplayed the threat of a nuclear Iran, "didn't learn the lessons of the Holocaust".

Six survivors lit six beacons honouring the 6 million Jews killed.

Also Thursday, the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Centre, added three new names to its list of the most-wanted World War II Nazi war criminals.

They are Hungarian Laszlo Csatary, a police chief of Kosice, in Hungarian-occupied Slovakia; Vladimir Katriuk, a platoon commander in a Ukrainian secret police unit which murdered numerous civilians in Belarus; and Helmut Oberlander, who served in the SS Einsatzkommando unit, a moving death squad, which carried out mass murders in southern Ukraine.

Read more on:    israel  |  holocaust

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