Siren wails as Israel marks annual Holocaust Remembrance Day

Visitors pray before their tour at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem Sunday

Siren wails as Israel marks annual Holocaust Remembrance Day

Israel on Monday remembered the six million Jews killed during the Holocaust (known in Israel as the Shoah).

Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-Evanston) issued the following statement Monday to mark the occasion of Yom Hashoah, a national holiday in Israel, which remembers the victims of the Nazi genocide in Europe and commemorates the Jewish resistance.

At 10am Israeli time a siren sounded in Israel for two minutes and people stood in silence. "The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators", it reads.

On Sunday, the president said in a speech to the World Jewish Congress Plenary Assembly in NY that the Holocaust is "the darkest chapter of human history".

"It is a race against the clock to collect as many names of those murdered during the Holocaust before there are no more survivors left", said Alexander Avram, director of Yad Vashem's Hall of Names, as he and others at the Holocaust memorial, urged people to help them gather as many names and survivor testimonies as possible.

It's one of the most melancholy days on Israel's calendar.

President Reuven Rivlin spoke at a ceremony marking Israel's Holocaust memorial day that was attended by former German President Joachim Gauck.

The major ceremony took place yesterday evening at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem. A public reading of names also took place in Israel's parliament, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other leaders recited names of relatives who were killed.

The guiding theme of this year's official Holocaust remembrance ceremony in Israel is, "Restoring Their Identities: The Fate of the Individual During the Holocaust".

Netanyahu said Israel has transformed itself into a strong nation with one of the "strongest defensive forces in the world" and warned "those that seek to destroy us will put themselves in danger of destruction".

"According to this approach, the justification for the existence of the State of Israel is the prevention of the next Holocaust".

How can somebody be that inhuman to his fellow man? A large number of Holocaust survivors fled to the fledgling state in the immediate aftermath of the war, and an estimated 160,000 remain.

"None of us is well positioned to change the course of history but what we can do is act locally, think about who we choose to lead us and give shelter", he says.

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