The official events commemorating the Holocaust or Shoah – the systematic slaughter of the Jews in Europe in the course of World War 2 – began at Yad Vashem at 8:00 PM Sunday.
After more than a millennium in which they lived in Europe – often persecuted, sometimes thriving – the Jews of the continent were rounded up systematically by Germany and methodically put to death. For years before their annihilation in death camps too ghastly to imagine, they were starved and humiliated, yet they managed to put up a fight in places such as the Warsaw and Vilnius ghettos, and even inside the death camps of Sobibor, Treblinka and Auschwitz.
German soldiers and their collaborators in France, Poland, Rumania, Hungary, the Ukraine and elsewhere in Germany's temporary “Third Reich” empire were responsible for some of the worst atrocities on record, against a people who were unarmed and without a state of their own. A race theory was propounded and anyone with Jewish ancestry was reviled and persecuted – as were gypsies, homosexuals, and the mentally and physically ill.
Two thirds of Europe's Jews, 6 million victims including 1.5 million children, were murdered by the Nazi regime which feared them more than it did the world's most formidable armies. Trains carrying Jewish men, women and children to the slaughter received priority over those shipping men and arms to the front even when Germany's military situation was deteriorating.
65 years after the liberation of the last death camp, the Jewish people in Israel alone numbers over 5.6 million strong. Its army is feared throughout the region and is said to be armed with the world's most potent weapons. The grandsons of Holocaust survivors are its generals, educated from childhood to remember the horror and to say “Never again!”.
Jews rounded up for transport to slaughter.
IAF F-15D over Auschwitz (file)
Baruch atem b'Shem, Yeshua