Those in attendance included Jewish WWII veterans of the Allied armies, Jewish partisans, underground fighters, Jewish Brigade members and diplomatic representatives from the Allied countries
Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver thanked those in the audience who actively took part in the defeat of Nazi Germany
The evening concluded with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Monument to the Jewish Soldiers and Partisans
09 May 2014
"Today when I see you veterans decorated with medals and sitting here with us at Yad Vashem, where the struggle for life and the memory of the six million Jews who did not survive the inferno are commemorated, I look back and my thoughts and my heart drift to my father who fought in the Red Army." Thus stated Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver as she praised the WWII veterans in the audience during her address on Thursday May 8, 2014, at an official ceremony marking the 69thanniversary of the Allied victory over Nazi Germany which took place at the Edmond J. Safra Lecture Hall in the International School for Holocaust Studies of Yad Vashem.
Over a hundred Jewish World War II veterans of the Allied armies, the majority from the Former Soviet Union, attended the ceremony, along with Jewish partisans, wounded soldiers from the war against the Nazis, underground fighters, volunteers from the Yishuv who fought in the British forces and veterans of the Jewish Brigade, aswell as diplomatic representatives from the Allied countries. Speakers at the event included: Dorit Novak, Director General of Yad Vashem, Prof. Emanuel Gutman, representative of the Jewish Brigade and MK Sofa Landver, Minister of Immigrant Absorption.
Conducted by Mikhail Gurevich, the Israeli Police Orchestra played many of the well-known patriotic songs from that era including several from the Soviet Union, Great Britain, the United States as well as a few sung by Jewish fighters from the Yishuv and Jewish partisans in Europe. Many of those in attendance, especially the veterans and those who lived through that difficult period, joined their voices with the soloists and Lieutenant Colonel Shai Abramson, Chief Cantor of the IDF in a nostalgic melody, singing a familiar song or two that still seemed to reflect the light of hope by those who had the courage to raise their arms in defiance amidst a powerful and growing darkness. Many of these same veterans, especially those from the Former Soviet Union, proudly donned old uniforms, medals or berets serving as a visual reminder of the sacrifice by over 1.5 million Jews who left their families to serve and fight in the Allied forces during World War II and who bravely resisted and defeated the injustice and tyranny which Nazi Germany brought to the world during one of the most evil episodes in human history.
Following the speeches and lively music, the ceremony continued at the Monument to the Jewish Soldiers and Partisans, the main site in which the annual ceremony takes place but as a result of the rainy weather was relocated this year. Wreaths were laid by representatives of the Government of Israel, the Knesset, IDF, diplomatic representatives of the Allied countries, as well as representatives of fighter and partisan organizations.
All photos by Isaac Harari