Central ceremonies are at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem and in Poland with a march from Auschwitz to Birkenau.
Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day, Yom Hashoah in Hebrew, is being marked on Wednesday evening and Thursday, remembering the atrocities of the Nazis and their collaborators who murdered six million Jews.
About two-thirds of Europe’s Jews were systematically murdered between 1941 and 1945.
The Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem is the site of two main ceremonies, one in the evening, and another the following morning.
In the evening, Israel’s president and prime minister, dignitaries, and survivors, along with second-generation children and their families attend an event which includes the lighting of six torches by survivors in memory of the six million.
On Thursday morning, the Yad Vashem ceremony begins at 10 am as sirens sound throughout Israel for two minutes. People around the Jewish state stop in their tracks to stand at attention; motorists and their passengers on the country’s roads pull over to the side and stand outside their vehicle; and children in school and adults in the workplace stand in memoriam.
At Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, a ceremony takes place during which the names of those murdered in the Holocaust are recited out loud.
The Ghetto Fighters’ Kibbutz and Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, both founded by survivors, are also the sites of central ceremonies, in addition to remembrances which take place at schools, army bases, and other locations.
Each year, Yad Vashem chooses a theme. This year, it’s “The War Within the War: The Struggle of the Jews to Survive During the Holocaust.”
“Across occupied Europe, Jews attempted in various ways to join in the armed struggle against the Nazis and their accomplices, including by joining partisan fighters and establishing Jewish underground groups. One-and-a-half million Jews enlisted in the Allied armies and served actively in the war,” says a passage on the Yad Vashem website.
In Poland, over 10,000 Jewish and non-Jewish youth from 40 countries and dozens of Holocaust survivors and dignitaries from around the world are expected to participate Thursday in the 31st annual International March of the Living, the three-kilometer march from Auschwitz to Birkenau, to pay tribute to all victims of the Holocaust and call for an end to anti-Semitism
This year, the event’s central ceremony will honor Greek Jewry, which was almost completely annihilated by the Nazis and their collaborators.
U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman is to head a delegation of American ambassadors and White House representatives taking part in the march.