Thousands of people participated today in the official ceremony marking 70 years since Nazi Germany was defeated, including Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.
More than 1,000 World War II veterans took part in the event, many of them over the age of 90. The various veterans who attended fought for the US, British or Soviet army during the war, while tens of thousands of Jews who fought in various underground organizations as partisans.
The ceremony was held by the Museum of the Jewish Fighter and Yad Vashem.
President Rivlin, who spoke at the event, said: “We mark here this evening seventy years since the victory of the free world, over the Nazi beast, and pay tribute to the Jewish fighters who played a part in this victory.
“Around one and a half million Jews served in the Second World War, around eight percent of the entire Jewish population, and around half a million of whom, fell in battle.
“Jewish servicemen fell as submarine commanders, fighter pilots, tank and infantry commanders, in the engineers and artillery corps, riflemen and regular soldiers. In every branch of the military, of each army which fought against the Nazis, were found decorated and dedicated Jewish heroes. No political affiliation, and no Jewish community was absent from the war,” said Rivlin.
Netanyahu addressed the crowd of veterans and said: “You were teenagers in bloody battlefields, mud, snow and ice and some of you even in the scorching desert. The war took away your youth but you granted humanity with hope and salvation.”
“I would like to tell you, dear fighters, veterans of battles, that you are a source of inspiration because the challenge you stood through was difficult and unbearable and the price incomprehensible. Your heroism joins a long history of fighters amongst us in all the generations.
“Your memories are not easy, to say the least. Your children also cannot always get you to talk. Therefore, I have one request: Tell your story to the young generation. They are thirsty to know about what you did. We all want to hear, to respect, to appreciate and admire. Israeli citizens cherish you,” said Netanyahu.
Ya’alon, who also praised the fighters, brought up the topic of Iran and said: “Seventy years later, we must remember that a country that openly discloses its intention to destroy another country – means it. A regime that supports terrorism and spreads it around the entire world – it is a necessity to act against it in various ways in order to stop its intentions.”
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