IDF soldiers at the State Opening Ceremony in Yad Vashem's Warsaw Ghetto Square
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03 May 2022
Holocaust Remembrance Day 2022 was once more marked by both traditional ceremonies and innovative online programming. This year's central theme was "Transports to Extinction: Deportations of the Jews During the Holocaust." In keeping with the policy of the "Final Solution," during World War II the Germans and their collaborators uprooted millions of Jews from their homes and deported them to their deaths. This meticulously organized operation was an event of historic significance, obliterating Jewish communities throughout German-occupied territories that had existed for centuries. Vast numbers of Jews were sent straight to the extermination sites, while many others were first taken to ghettos and transit camps. Originally a symbol of progress, globalization and human technological prowess during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the railway car warped into the emblem of the backsliding of human values into the abyss of wholesale mass murder on an unprecedented scale.
The stories of the six Holocaust survivors chosen to light the traditional six traditional torches at the State Opening Ceremony marking Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day 2022 on the night of 27 April reflected this theme. At the event, which was held, as in years past, in Warsaw Ghetto Square on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem, President H.E. Mr. Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister H.E. Mr. Naftali Bennett both delivered remarks to the audience; Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council, Holocaust survivor Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, kindled the Memorial Torch; Moshe Meron spoke on behalf of the survivors; and Beni Harel recited "El Maleh Rahamim," the Jewish prayer for the souls of the martyrs.
After addressing contemporary antisemitism, President Herzog spoke directly to the survivors, declaring that
"Your memory is our memory, and the mission of passing it on falls on all of us. We are obliged to learn the lessons of the Holocaust and pass them on to the next generations… you give us inspiration and hope, and sow within us faith and justice in our path forward."
Prime Minister Bennett held a Page of Testimony for an unnamed baby, who was murdered just half an hour after her birth in Auschwitz. "The Shoah was the ultimate expression of antisemitism that has been around for millennia," he stated.
"There is no answer as to why antisemitism exists… the building of the State of Israel, the Jewish state in the Land of Israel – that is our victory over those who would seek to destroy us."
During the ceremony, which was broadcast live with simultaneous translation into seven languages including Arabic, songs and narrative pieces were performed by Israeli artists Ester Rada, Ron Buchnik and Noa Koler. As in past years, the ceremony also featured a traditional memorial service, including the recitation of a chapter from Psalms by Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi David Lau, and the Kaddish mourner's prayer by the Rishon LeZion, Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef.
On the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Yad Vashem and Tzohar, together with partners "Zikaron BaSalon" and "Our Six Million" ("Shem VeNer"), invited the public, as families, to take part in the "Generations Light the Way" initiative by lighting six memorial candles in memory of the six million victims of the Shoah, and reciting the traditional mourner's prayer "El Maleh Rahamim" and/or the poem "Nizkor – Let us Remember" by Holocaust survivor Abba Kovner. President Herzog was honored to participate in the project at a personal ceremony in his official residence in Jerusalem.
The following morning, after the siren was heard throughout the country at exactly 10 am, Israel's President, Prime Minister, Speaker of the Knesset, President of the Supreme Court, representatives of survivor and fighter organizations and delegations from Israel and abroad, took part in the Wreath-laying Ceremony in Warsaw Ghetto Square. “Unto Every Person There is a Name” – the annual public recitation of Holocaust victims’ names lest they be forgotten – took place in Yad Vashem's Hall of Remembrance, where the Main Memorial Ceremony was held later on. For the next few hours, special free online lectures, "Behind-the-Scenes" presentations and tours of the Holocaust History Museum were offered to the public.
The day came to its traditional close back in Warsaw Ghetto Square with the Youth Movements Ceremony in the presence of Israel's Minister of Education Dr. Yifat Shasha Bitton. Holocaust survivor Chava Yotzker, born in Budapest, Hungary, spoke to the diverse audience on behalf of the survivors, and Holocaust survivor Nachum Rotenberg, born in Lodz, Poland, lit the Memorial Torch, accompanied by youth movement members.
In his address, Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan told the youths that
"The survivors themselves expect and anticipate that you will continue in their path, in your own ways. Each and every one of you must pave your own personal course in discovering meanings from the memory of the Holocaust. As long as you do so honestly, with value and loyalty to the historical truth, your efforts will be received with open arms…. you are connected by common core values, and lead in passing them on to your own communities. In doing so, you embody and uphold the critical message of 'unity without uniformity.'"
Yad Vashem Online
Yad Vashem created special mini-sites dedicated to Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day containing information about the events and ceremonies taking place throughout the day, as well as relevant educational materials.
A new online exhibition entitled “Deportations of Jews during the Holocaust: Stories of the Last Deportees, June 1944-April 1945” was launched on the Yad Vashem website.
Using photographs, documentation and testimonies from Yad Vashem's unrivalled collections, the exhibition tells the stories of those Jews who were deported in the last months of the war - from June 1944 until April 1945 - from the Netherlands, Hungary, Greece, France, Poland, Italy, Czechoslovakia and Germany.
The Jews were loaded onto cattle cars and deported to Auschwitz and to camps in Germany, sometimes just days before the liberators arrived.
"Designing Memory": Winning Poster 2022
The winner of this year's national competition to design the official poster for Holocaust Remembrance Day was Or Simone Shawat, 33, from Kiryat Tivon, a Graphic Design graduate. In designing the poster, Shawat sought to expose and illustrate the apathy towards the atrocities that took place in Europe and elsewhere during the war years. The crowded prisoner numbers, against the backdrop of the train speeding forward, hint at the denial of the victims' humanity on their final journey towards the unknown. "The poster includes some 900 prisoner numbers representing millions of victims," Shawat explained upon receiving the prize.
"Every number I put on the poster aroused in me both strength and trepidation. I sincerely hope this will resonate with the general public".
The winning poster was distributed to schools, youth movements and IDF bases across Israel, accompanied by a lesson plan written by members of the International School for Holocaust Studies, as well as to Israeli missions abroad and public and private organizations.