The State Opening Ceremony for Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day, which was pre-recorded without an audience at Warsaw Ghetto Square at Yad Vashem on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem, began its broadcast on Monday at 8 PM (Israel time).
Yad Vashem will transmit the ceremony complete with translation (except for the remarks of the President and Prime Minister) into English, French, German, Russian and Spanish on Yad Vashem's website.
The event is being broadcast here on Arutz Sheva.
President Rivlin said during his address: "Brothers and sisters, Holocaust survivors, second and third generations, families, my fellow Israeli citizens. Over the past few weeks, it seems as if the world has stopped dead. The fight against the coronavirus pandemic is setting the agenda of our lives right now, from one news broadcast to the next, from one set of instructions to the next. So, unfortunately, we are not gathering together tonight, as we do every year, in Warsaw Ghetto Square at Yad Vashem. But we must not allow the threats of the present to cast a shadow over the memory of the past. We must remember! We remember! We will continue to remember! For our own sakes, and for future generations."
"The threats of the present do not blur the meaning of this hallowed day, Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day. Even in these difficult times, when we are confronting a global pandemic and the current sense of anxiety, we hear and make place for remembering the past, the victims and you, the survivors. You, who survived humanity’s darkest hour. A catastrophe brought by humans on humans.
"Exactly 75 years have passed since the gates of hell were opened. In the spring of 1945, a few months after the furnaces of Auschwitz were extinguished, the sun shone over Bergen-Belsen and the other camps. For six million of our brothers and sisters, it was too late. When the liberators entered the camps, they stood before hell on earth. Bodies scattered, and the corpses walking among them. They were the ‘Muselmanner’, the living dead, starved, parched with thirst, exhausted and sick. Their families had been murdered and incinerated, massacred or missing. They had lost everything, even the ability to weep. Nobel Prize winner and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel ז"ל described it thus: “No one wept in the camp, as if you were afraid that once you started, you would not be able to stop. Freedom will be, as far as we were concerned, the ability to cry again.”
"My fellow Israelis, it was that spirit, the human spirit, that triumphed over the Holocaust. The Nazi beast conquered bodies, but not spirits. In the paths of tears, in the valleys of hell, in a world cast asunder and devoid of solidarity, when death was among them every day, our brothers and sisters put their lives at risk to save the weakest among them. Not a single Jew who was rescued from that hell, that survived the terrible catastrophe, who did not do so with the help of another Jew, another human being. Persecuted Jews, who themselves had nothing, showed bravery, resourcefulness and humanity and saved lives. They proved, time after time, man’s humanity towards man. They proved that, even in the depths, one can and must choose to be human, to hold the most fundamental Jewish value of life, of mutual responsibility. They knew that if they were hold fast to these Jewish values – mutual responsibility, solidarity and helping each other, their humanity would be extinguished even before they were annihilated. And so they were the angels in the heart of hell.
"In January, we gathered together here in Jerusalem, leaders from around the world, to give voice to our shared commitment to passing on the historical facts and lessons of the Holocaust to future generations. We recognized a simple truth, that we must stand together, global leaders and citizens of the world, against racism, antisemitism and fascism, defending democracy and democratic values.
"The current pandemic, which is a global concern, the war against an invisible, inhuman enemy which makes no distinction between peoples only sharpens our shared commitment to human solidarity, mutual responsibility, an uncompromising fight against antisemitism and hatred which are also spreading, like a virus, among people.
"Brothers and sisters, Holocaust survivors, heroes of our independence. Memories live longer than those who hold them. We remember. We pledge to remember. We promise to pass on the torch of memory, with you and on your behalf. We will never be parted. May the memory of our brothers and sisters be forever bound in the bond of life.”