Sirens bring Israel to standstill, marking pain of Holocaust

Published April 24th, 2017 - 01:00 GMT
Israelis at a Tel Aviv train station stop and stand for a minute of silence to remember the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, April 24 2017. (AFP/Jack Guez)
Israelis at a Tel Aviv train station stop and stand for a minute of silence to remember the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, April 24 2017. (AFP/Jack Guez)

Sirens blared for two minutes in Israel on Monday, bringing life to a brief standstill to reflect on the memory of the 6 million Jews murdered by Nazis in the Holocaust.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin attended a wreath-laying ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, joined by German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern.

Netanyahu in a speech on Sunday night had warned that anti-Semitism and global indifference to the suffering of others were still rampant, though a "ray of light" was US President Donald Trump's recent missile response to a deadly chemical attack in Syria.

Trump, whose administration has made several Holocaust-related gaffes, vowed to stamp out anti-Semitism in a video address on Sunday to the World Jewish Congress.

"On Yom HaShoah, we look back at the darkest chapter of human history," said Trump, using the day's Hebrew name. "We mourn, we remember, we pray, and we pledge: Never again."

In Poland, more than 10,000 young Jews from Israel and around the world gathered to take part in the annual 3-kilometre "March of the Living" from Auschwitz (Oswiecim in Polish) to Birkenau, both parts of the Nazis' largest death camp in the years during World War II.

Elisha Wiesel, son of Holocaust survivor and Nobel peace laureate Elie Wiesel, who died last year aged 87, is due to take part in this year's march. He plans to light a memorial torch for his father.

This year, education ministers from 12 countries are scheduled to meet in Israel to discuss how to carry on with remembrance of the Holocaust, or Shoah in Hebrew, once all the survivors have died.

"The March of the Living this year is dedicated to one simple question - how do we educate without survivors?" said Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett in a statement before leaving for the march in Poland. "The number of survivors who can share their story is rapidly declining. We must find new ways to remember."

There are still 160,000 Holocaust survivors in Israel.


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