Rivlin at Yom Hashoah ceremony at Yad Vashem
Rivlin at Yom Hashoah ceremony at Yad VashemYonatan Sindel/Flash 90

President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday evening addressed the opening ceremony of Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah) at Yad Vashem.

In his address, Rivlin spoke of the uniqueness of the Holocaust and of the importance of its lessons today.

“The gas chambers were not built ‘as a crime against humanity’, they were built for the purpose of annihilating the Jewish People, and specifically that nation. There has been no previous historical event like this: extermination divorced from any [political] conflict, divorced from territorial issues, or from a struggle for dominance. It was a terrorizing process that gathered Jews from around the world, from different continents, Jews who did not know each other’s language, both the believers and non-believers, assimilated and orthodox Jews, With one goal: to exterminate them and their seed from the face of the earth,” he said.

“The Shoah did not happen in the ancient world, nor did it happen so long ago. It happened in the heart of Europe of enlightenment. In the heart of the Germany of Kant - the father of modern ethics. In the heart of the France of the declaration of the rights of man, the rights of the citizen. It was there, yes, there, that the greatest of horrors was planned, and was aimed at us, the members of the Jewish People.”

“We shall always undertake our own defense – the State of Israel is not compensation for the Holocaust, but the Holocaust teaches us that we must take our fate in our own hands. The Jewish People has the right and the duty for a defensive force, for national independence, for sovereignty, here in our historic homeland,” stressed Rivlin.

The President concluded his remarks with the words: “We have returned to our land, and from here we shall never get lost. May the memory of our brothers and sisters we bound up in the bond of life. Amen.”