Pacific media delegation visits World Holocaust Remembrance Centre

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu In Israel ,

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DISCOVERING JERUSALEM: The Pacific Journalists’ tour to the Yad Vashem.

DISCOVERING JERUSALEM: The Pacific Journalists’ tour to the Yad Vashem.

The Pacific journalists’ tour to the Yad Vashem - The World Holocaust Remembrance Center - was quite difficult, hearing first-hand how six million Jews were murdered, including children by the Nazi’s. 

According to the tour guide, Iris Rosenberg, while the Nazi persecution of the Jews began in 1933, the mass murder was committed during World War II. 

“It took the Germans and their accomplices four and a half years to murder six million Jews. They were at their most efficient from April to November 1942 – 250 days in which they murdered some two and a half million Jews.”

“They never showed any restraint, they slowed down only when they began to run out of Jews to kill, and they only stopped when the allies defeated them.”

“There was no escape. The murderers were not content with destroying the communities; they also traced each hidden Jew and hunted down each fugitive.”

“The crime of being a Jew was so great that every single one had to be put to death, the men, the women, the children, the committed, the disinterested, the apostates, the healthy and creative, the sickly and the lazy – all were meant to suffer and die with no reprieve, no hope, no possible amnesty, nor chance for alleviation.”

“Most of the Jews of Europe were dead by 1945. A civilization that had flourished for almost 2,000 years was no more.” 

“The survivors – one from a town, two from a host – dazed, emaciated, bereaved beyond measure, gathered the remnants of their vitality and the remaining sparks of their humanity, and rebuilt.”

“They never meted out justice to their tormentors – for what justice could ever be achieved after such a crime? Rather, they turned to rebuilding, new families forever under the shadow of those absent, new life stories forever warped by the wounds, new communities forever haunted by the loss,” said Roseberg. 

 There is a Hall of Names at the Yad Vashem where Jewish people’s memorial to each Jew murdered in the holocaust – a place where they are commemorated for generations to come.

“No cemeteries, no headstones, no traces were left to mark the loss of the six million holocaust victims.” 

The Hall of Names Yad Vashem, with the support of Jewish communities and organizations around the world, is leading the historic mission to memorialise Jewish victims of the Holocaust by collecting “Pages of Testimony” – special one-page forms designed to restore the personal identity and brief life stories of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis and their accomplices. 

“Submitted by survivors, remaining family members or friends and acquaintances in commemoration of Jews who perished in the Holocaust, Pages of Testimony documents the names, biographical details and when available, photographs of each individual victim.” 

“The first 800,000 names on Pages of Testimony were collected during the 1950’s, with ongoing global outreach efforts to identify the unnamed victims of the Shoah so they will always be remembered.”

“Collection efforts continued throughout the years in Israel and among Jewish communities throughout the world.” 

“A ‘Room of Names’ was opened in 1968 on Yad Vashem’s campus on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem.” 

Rosenberg stated that in 1990, the Hall of Names extended its scope beyond Pages of Testimony and began to actively gather and process lists of names originating from deportations, camps and ghetto records. 

“The computerization of the names from all sources began in late 1991 and expanded until the end of 1998 when almost one million names had been computerized.”

“A milestone in the history of the Hall of Names was reached in 1999. Yad Vashem embarked on an impressive and intensive project to computerize more than 1.1 million Pages of Testimony, including the scanning of all 1.6 million paper forms collected up to that time.” 

Another significant memorial, which is hollowed out from an underground cavern, is a tribute to the approximately 1.5 million Jewish children who were murdered during the holocaust. 

“Memorial candles, a customary Jewish tradition to remember the dead are reflected infinitely in a dark and somber space, creating the impression of millions of stars shining in the firmament.” 

“The names of murdered children, their ages and countries of origin can be heard in the background.”

“The children’s names are taken from Pages of Testimony in the Hall of Names.” 

“The Children’s Memorial was designed by architect Moshe Safdie and built with the generous donation of Abe and Edita Spiegel, whose son Uziel was murdered in Auschwitz at the age of two and a half,” explained Rosenberg.”

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