- Unlike every other Holocaust Remembrance Day over these past few decades, on Monday and Tuesday the gate at the entrance to the Auschwitz extermination camp remained empty. The thousands who usually visit the camp every year have stayed at home due to the coronavirus epidemic – but we will be back, strong and with our heads held high.
- Auschwitz was here with us, in our generation, before the eyes of the entire world. Most of the world knew about Auschwitz as early as 1942, more so in 1943, and all the more in 1944, while trains filled with 50,000 Hungarian Jews to be exterminated were dispatched daily to the camp.
- Some of the people who perpetrated these atrocities had even graduated from universities after studying enlightened German philosophers and spiritual leaders such as Goethe, Heinrich Heine, and Immanuel Kant.
- Auschwitz was a factory of death. It was there that the cursed Dr. Josef Mengele stood, and with a glance decided who was worthy of staying alive to bolster the camp’s workforce, and who was to be sent to the gas chambers.
- This year we could not walk the same route that those sentenced to death walked so many years ago, and no rendition of the Israeli national anthem HaTikvah will be heard in this valley of Jewish suffering. Even so, every one of us knows that the memory lives on of the Nazis, who threw millions of innocents into gas chambers and planned to eradicate an entire people from the face of the Earth.
- But it is this people, our people, who are the people of eternity and will remain so until the end of time.
The writer, who survived the Buchenwald concentration camp, is chairman of the Yad Vashem Council and a former chief rabbi of Israel.