By LUIS ANDRES HENAO – Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) – Holocaust survivors around the world have come together to deliver a message about the dangers of uncontrolled hatred and the importance of remembrance at a time of rising global anti-Semitism.
In a video released Thursday to mark Yom HaShoah – Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day – 100 Holocaust survivors called on people to stand by them and remember the Nazi genocide to avoid repeating the horrors of the past .
The 100-word project video was published by the New York-based Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, also known as the Claims Conference. The group represents the world’s Jews in negotiations for compensation and reparations for victims of Nazi persecution and their heirs, and provides welfare for Holocaust survivors around the world.
“The world is filled with strife — from the pandemic to the crisis in Ukraine — on memorial days like Yom HaShoah, it’s so important to stop and reflect,” Gideon Taylor, president of the Claims Conference, said in a statement.
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“The call to action these survivors are making today is not just a call to remember, but a call to action, a reminder that we don’t have to be bystanders. We can all stand up in our own way and choose not to let our collective history repeat itself.”
The project is being released as Russia faces widespread loathing and war crimes accusations over attacks on civilians in its invasion of Ukraine. It also comes at a time when Holocaust survivors – now in their 80s and 90s – are dying, while studies show that younger generations do not lack even basic knowledge of the Nazi genocide that annihilated a third of the world’s Jews.
“If we don’t remember them, we murder them twice because we forgot them. And we have forgotten the tragic travesty that afflicted millions of people,” said Ginger Lane, a Holocaust survivor who was hidden with her siblings by non-Jews in an orchard near Berlin.
“It’s important to remember because it’s part of our heritage and legacy that we’re passing on to the younger generation,” said Lane, whose mother was killed in the Auschwitz death camp and who has made it her lifelong mission , enlighten others.
“Holocaust denial, we know it’s always been there, but it seems to be on the rise, and … a large number of young people don’t even know what the word Holocaust means … These young people are desperate to move on in life. But her life today is shaped by the past. And they need to know what happened in the past.”
In a 50-state study of Millennials and Gen Z people in the US in 2020, researchers found that 63% of respondents did not know that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust and 48% could not name a single death camp or Concentration camp.
The statement of the 100 Word Project by Holocaust Survivors states:
“Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day
We all survived the Holocaust
We are here to give a voice to the six million murdered Jews
We remind that uncontrolled hatred can lead to deeds, actions to genocide
A little over 75 years ago, a third of the world’s Jews were systematically murdered
Among them, over 1.5 million children were killed
in the name of indifference, intolerance, hatred
hatred of what is feared
Hate what was different
We must remember the past or it becomes our future
On Holocaust Remembrance Day, we ask the world to stand with us and remember.”
The annual commemoration, known as Yom HaShoah, is one of the most solemn on the Israeli calendar, with the nation coming to a halt during a two-minute siren on Thursday morning. According to the Hebrew calendar, Holocaust Remembrance Day marks the anniversary of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising – the most significant act of Jewish resistance during the Holocaust. Although the uprising ultimately failed, it is remembered in Israel as a symbol of strength and the struggle for freedom in the face of annihilation.
It means resilience, toughness, strength. It’s the hallmark of a Holocaust survivor, the very concept of survival, of surviving, of fighting to the end,” said Greg Schneider, executive vice president of the Claims Conference.
“And for some, unfortunately, the end was the gas chamber. For others, the end was the Warsaw ghetto, where a very small group of people, not well equipped, held out for almost a month,” Schneider said.
“And that’s why it’s such an important day in Israel and around the world for the Jewish community, because it symbolizes the struggle of certainly the Jewish people, but of all people who are facing this kind of incredible adversity.”
The Claims Conference is working with its partners, including the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), to get as many Holocaust survivors out of Ukraine as possible. Thousands of people have been killed and more than five million have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on February 24.
Holocaust survivors from Canada, England, France, Germany, Israel, the United States and Ukraine were part of the video message.
“Survivors from many different countries and languages, who had very different experiences of persecution – some were in concentration camps, some were in ghettos, some escaped, some went into hiding,” said Schneider.
“Yet they come together to speak with one voice of hope for the future.”
The Associated Press’s religion coverage is supported by AP’s collaboration with The Conversation US, funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. AP is solely responsible for this content.
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Survivors Unite to Deliver a Message Commemorating the Holocaust | lifestyles
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