“Shema Yisroel Hashem Elokainu Hashem Echad.”
This is the cry of our brothers and sisters in this very place.
I can close my eyes and hear the weeping of the mothers
As their children were ripped out of their arms.
I see the horror of the fathers as their loved ones were
Burned before their eyes.
The accursed “selection” process : for life or for death
The barking of the dogs
The blood – curdling orders of the guards.
“Schnell, schnell” Quickly, quickly.
They killed the Jews quickly, quickly.
“A person was taken off the train in the morning,”
Wrote Raoul Hilberg, “and in the evening his body was
Cremated and his clothes packaged up ready to be sent to Germany.”
From the time this railway line by which we now stand, was laid down,
From the spring of 1944 the Auschwitz train station
Became the busiest train station in all of Europe.
The extermination process became ever shorter, from
One whole day to four hours.
Four hours, and whole lives went up in smoke.
Loves, fears, beliefs, hopes, pain, memory:
For Nazi Germany, they were merely numbers,
Without any identity or name.
Germanic efficiency was exploited to the full.
In Auschwitz alone, some million and a hundred thousand human beings
Were tortured, slaughtered, murdered, cremated and erased
From the face of the earth.
One million of them were Jews.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We stand here and we know,
That from this place we cannot hope for justice.
In this place –
Where the ashes of our brothers and sisters
Were swallowed by the soil –
No justice will grow.
We do not expect justice in Europe that seeks –
Too quickly –
To forget, to eradicate the memory,
To deny, [to destroy evidence].
The memory of the Jewish People,
Is the antithesis of the haste of the Nazis.
We are a nation that remembers,
Our memory is patient.
Everything done to us by Amalek
Is engraved in our memory,
The memory of an ancient nation.
Also engraved in our memory are those
Who helped Amalek.
Those who stood to the side,
Those who saw the smoking chimneys,
Those who heard the cries,
But never lifted a finger.
Engraved in our memory are those
Who, after the end of the War thought
That Jewish blood is cheap, forsaken,
And so they slaughtered those Jews who
Returned to their homes.
There is the Holocaust,
And there are Holocaust deniers,
And the difference between the two –
Is the truth.
And we, who remember, who stand here,
The truth will grow out of the Earth.
Your Excellency, President of Poland,
The Polish nation barely survived the Second World War.
In September 1939, Poland had become the greatest field of death,
Murder and destruction in Europe.
It was an area under Nazi occupation,
And the Poles were an oppressed people,
Living in fear.
There was also a Polish underground resistance
And a Polish Government in exile.
The people of Poland produced thousands of
“Righteous among the Nations”.
Men and women who put their own lives
And the lives of their dear ones at risk for the sake of others.
And they too are remembered,
And we will remember and honor each of those men and women forever.
Nevertheless, it is impossible to deny the truth.
The Nazi death machine would not have been able
To achieve its terrible vision, if it had not received help:
If it had not found a fertile ground of hatred for Jews,
In which to take root.
True, it was Germany that established the Camps,
But our People were not murdered only in the Camps.
The members of our nation were betrayed by the people amongst
Whom they lived, in France, in Holland and in Belgium.
They were murdered by Ukrainians, Lithuanians and yes – also by Poles.
Too many citizens in Eastern Europe and in Western Europe,
Stole Jewish property, took control of Jewish homes,
Handed over their Jewish neighbors,
Murdered them, and turned their backs on those who,
Just a moment before, had been a part of them.
And when the survivors of the Holocaust returned after the war,
They were sometimes met with hostility,
Violence, pogroms and murder.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Polish people were killed and murdered in the cruel War,
We, the Jews, were slaughtered in the Holocaust.
A Holocaust that included not only concentration camps,
But also killing pits, ghettoes, forced labor and pogroms.
A Holocaust that included the slaughter and murder and death
Through torture, of one and a half million babies and children
Whose only sin was that they were born Jewish.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is the right of every nation – to rewrite sections of its own narrative.
It is permitted for every nation,
It is fitting that every nation – should rebuild itself from its ruins.
I do not want to interfere with Polish history.
Poland knows how to do its own soul searching.
However, if the Polish People feels that its image has been distorted
By the events of the Holocaust it is more important that we cooperate,
That we invest in education.
That together, we establish institutions, that together we work on
Commemoration and remembrance,
That together, we, Poles and Jews, study what happened,
That we make sure that it will never happen again.
[Hans Frank, the German Governor of the Generalgouvernement, said at
The Nuremberg Trials:
“A thousand years may pass, but still Germany’s guilt will not have been erased.” A thousand years.]
Germany did not purchase the forgiveness of the Jews,
just as no nation can legislate their forgetting.
For no legislation can cover over the blood.
No self-interest can cover over anti – Semitism, racism, hatred of the other.
Not in Austria,
Not in Holland,
not in Belgium and, above all,
not in Germany.
But those who are willing to bravely look straight into their past,
Those who are willing to bravely deal with the anti – Semitism and the racism
That continue to raise their heads even today
Will find in us allies,
determined, true partners to pave the way that leads
from remembrance to the future.
Ladies and Gentlemen, dear friends,
we shall always remember, from generation to generation,
the amazing goodness of the thousands of men and women
who risked their own lives in order to save others.
We shall always remember the horrifying human evil of the Nazis,
and their collaborators from all nations.
We shall always remember the members of our nation,
by their names in their lives not only in their deaths.
We shall remember their narratives, their customs,
Their everyday lives.
What they liked to read, what they studied, what they dreamed of
becoming and doing.
Six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust,
but for us, they will never be a number.
Year by year,
We discover more details about them,
and our one and only aim is to know not only that
“To every person there is a name”, but what was their name?
Who were they?
How did they live?
And how did they die?
It will take time but we will know.
We shall continue to plumb the depths of remembrance, in Germany,
In Austria, in Ukraine, in Poland, in Hungary, in Greece,
In each and every place.
The archives, the relatives, the testimonies,
And the silences, every one of them will eventually be revealed.
There are here with us today survivors,
Whose bodies and souls testify to those horrors to this day.
They will hand on to us the torch of memory, and we shall carry it
From generation to generation.
I stand here today as President of the State of Israel, the State of the Jewish People, on Holocaust
Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day.
Seventy five years since the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising;
Seventy years since the establishment of the State of Israel;
The Thirtieth anniversary of the March of the Living.
Thirty years ago the first March of the Living took place and
Every year since then, in close cooperation with the Polish Government
And the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, more
Than a quarter million of young Jew and non- jes have marched here.
And today, we marched with them.
Survivors of the Holocaust, people who escaped the Holocaust, living witnesses,
All marched before us.
We did not march from Auschwitz to Birkenau.
We did not march from Auschwitz 1 to Auschwitz 2.
We marched from death to life.
We marched from the Holocaust to the Revival.
We marched from Auschwitz to Jerusalem.
Each footstep in this march was a step in the history of the Jewish People.
An ancient and surviving nation, that has been blessed
With enormous powers of creativity;
Of both spiritual and practical strengths.
A nation that was privileged to return to its homeland after two thousand
Years of exile, to rebuild a national home as a free people among the family of nations.
The nation that was born through [G-d’s] command [to Abraham] to:
“Go forth,” and continues to go forward, to walk in the March of the Living.
Continues to affirm
“Am Yisrael chai”