Israel comes to standstill to remember Holocaust victims

Sirens brought Israelis to a national standstill Thursday as the country remembered the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust.

From left to right, Chairman of Yad Vashem, Avner Shalev; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein attend a ceremony marking the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day at Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem on Thursday. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo
From left to right, Chairman of Yad Vashem, Avner Shalev; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein attend a ceremony marking the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day at Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem on Thursday. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

Buses and cars stopped on Israeli streets and passengers stepped out of their vehicles to commemorate the observance of start of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

A wreath-laying ceremony was held at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, the memorial to the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. Other events followed, including a main memorial ceremony and a youth movement assembly.

Most schools held official assemblies for students to honor the dead and hear stories from Holocaust survivors.

The Israeli government took part in a ceremony called, “Unto Every Person There is a Name,” in which lawmakers recited names of victims.

In Poland, millions observed the annual “March of the Living” event, led by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Polish President Andrzej Duda.

More than 12,000 marchers — including Israel Defense Force chief Gadi Eisenkot and the heads of Israel’s Mossad spy agency and Shin Bet security service — participated in a two-mile march from the site of the Auschwitz concentration camp to the Birkenau extermination camp, which housed Nazi gas chambers.

More than 1 million people died in the camps.

In Washington, D.C., U.S. President Donald Trump proclaimed April 12-19 as Days of Remembrance of Victims of the Holocaust.

“Let us continue to come together to remember all the innocent lives lost in the Holocaust, pay tribute to those intrepid individuals who resisted the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto, and recall those selfless heroes who risked their lives in order to help or save those of their persecuted neighbors,” a White House statement said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid tribute at Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, where he suggested that Nazi aggression during World War II was comparable to activities by Iran today.

“Today, too, there’s an extremist regime that’s threatening us, threatening the peace of the entire world,” Netanyahu said. “That regime explicitly declares that it intends on destroying us, the Jewish state.”

By Sara Shayanian