Americans this month are observing Holocaust Remembrance Day — or Yom HaShoah in Hebrew — in honor of the victims of the Nazi era and to commit themselves to help prevent future genocides.
In Washington, the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool on April 10 was surrounded by portraits of Holocaust survivors, and sometimes the survivors themselves, as part of a remembrance event this year. This included Martin Weiss, who was born in Poland, in what was then Czechoslovakia. He survived several concentration camps but lost family members during the Holocaust.
“Young people should know what mankind is capable of,” says Weiss, who was liberated by the U.S. Army in 1945 and came to the U.S. the next year, where he later opened a grocery business. He also volunteers at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, which sponsored the outdoor exhibition at the Reflecting Pool. “You really have to be tolerant. Everyone is entitled to live under the sun,” he said as part of the museum’s “First Person” series of recorded conversations with Holocaust survivors.
Another event in Washington remembered the life of Irena Sendler. She was a Polish citizen who defied the Nazis to save thousands of victims, including an estimated 2,500 Jewish children, by smuggling them out of the Warsaw Ghetto. The Department of State and the embassies of Israel and Poland sponsored the event, held April 11. Sendler, who was a Polish social worker during World War II, died in 2008.
Holocaust Remembrance Day marks the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. It is officially observed in the United States this year on April 12, which corresponds to the 27th day of Nisan on the Hebrew calendar.
The U.N. General Assembly designated January 27, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.