Holocaust: If you survive, please tell the world what happened!
These words remain alive within the Yad Vashem Holocaust Historical Museum in Israel. Yad Vashem, established in 1953, was to be a living official memorial to the Holocaust, its’ survivors and victims. Yad Vashem today is the world’s foremost authority on the Holocaust upheld by its foundational pillars: to commemorate, to document, to research and to educate people about the Holocaust.
Sometimes truth can diminish as time passes, because the survivors who experienced it in life are no longer with us. The Israeli Knesset passed the Yad Vashem Law in 1953, establishing Yad Vashem to be an official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. It was not until the 1990’s Yad Vashem began the tedious process of documenting the stories of survivors in their own words, as part of their educational program. Avner Shalev, the Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate, said, “The Holocaust is not statistics or large-scale processes, it is a story and another story and another story of victims, the large majority of whom were murdered. It is hard to identify with a process, but you can empathize with a personal experience. That is why the testimonies are the backbone of our education work.”
The March of the Living is an Intergenerational and international gathering of High School teens, adults of all ages and Holocaust Survivors to teach the history of the Holocaust. First established in 1988, the March of the Living educational programs now encompass two-weeks every year immediately following Passover. Educational events center on the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination death camps. Since the March of the Living first began, over 400,000 feet from over 35 countries have silently marched along the same 3-kilometer path from Auschwitz to Birkenau following in the footsteps of those who marched to their extermination.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. The 70th year since the liberation from Germany’s extermination death camps. How any human beings can deny the Holocaust or the stories shared by its survivors is unbelievable, alas today there are still some who denounce the Holocaust events ever took place. Germany attempted to demolish much of its extermination infrastructure prior to the Soviet’s arrival, but one thing they could not destroy was the memories and the experiences of those that survived nor the testimonies of those who witnessed their crimes. Denying the Holocaust is the cruelest-vilest form of anti-Semitism, for it degrades and dismisses the stories of both the living and the dead. Martha Weiss, a Holocaust Survivor, recalls “The last thing people who were about to be murdered in the gas chambers said is ‘If you survive, please tell the world what happened. 70 years later, the March of the Living continues marching forward teaching and sharing the truth of what took place within the walls of Auschwitz and Birkenau.
Lovers of Israel, in the days ahead confirm your love of Israel and your love for Holocaust Survivors, by helping support their lives, for in doing so you are saying to each Survivor and every memory – we believe you and we say “Never Again.”
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