07 April 2021
As Israel begins observing Holocaust Remembrance Day 2021, Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, is offering the public a variety of opportunities to explore, learn and enrich their knowledge into the history and personal stories from the Holocaust, as well as the chance to participate in activities marking this important day. Virtual lectures, educational materials and online tours offer a behind-the-scenes look at the different aspects of the World Holocaust Remembrance Center for those still unable to visit the Mount of Remembrance in person.
Yesterday, President of the State of Israel H.E. Mr. Reuven Rivlin participated an initiative geared to impart the memory of the Shoah and its victims to the next generation. "Generations Light the Way" is a joint project of Yad Vashem and Tzohar, in which families are encouraged to gather together on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day to light six memorial candles in memory of the six million Holocaust victims. They will then recite the traditional mourner's prayer "El Maleh Rahamim" and/or the poem "Nizkor – Let Us Remember" by Holocaust survivor Abba Kovner. President Rivlin was honored to participate in the project at a personal ceremony in his official residence in Jerusalem.
New Online Exhibition: "The Onset of Murder"
The spring of 1941 marked a turning point in World War II and the Holocaust. Months before the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question" was officially formulated during the Wannsee Conference, Jews living in the territories occupied by the Soviet Union came under direct threat by Nazi Germany. In June 1941, German troops invaded the USSR in an offensive campaign known as Operation Barbarossa. In accordance with extreme antisemitic ideology, the massive military attack was accompanied by waves of mass extermination of local Jewish communities.
To mark Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day, observed this year 7-8 April 2021, Yad Vashem chose to highlight this topic as its central theme "Until the Very Last Jew: Eighty Years Since the Onset of Mass Annihilation." Remembering the murderous onslaught that swept eastern Europe and left few survivors in its wake, Yad Vashem has uploaded a new online exhibition, entitled "The Onset of Murder: The Fate of Jewish Families in 1941."
The exhibition presents the fate of the Jews of Eastern Europe through heart-wrenching testimonies, personal photographs and official documents housed in Yad Vashem's unrivalled collections and archives. One featured story is that of Arye-Leib Scharf, who was born in 1906 in Romania to a traditional Jewish family of nine. In February 1941, while living Ivankoutz, Bukovinia, Arye-Leib wrote a postcard to his sister Etta, who had immigrated to Eretz Israel several years before. "I got a very sad letter from our beloved mother," he relates in the missive. "Not that I'm surprised, since over there in Romania, the Jews' situation is indescribable! Hair-raising barbarism reigns. Here, all is well with us. Everyone has work…"
The postcard is the last sign of life from Arye-Leib, his wife Hinda and their five children. In 1941, they were deported to Transnistria, and are presumed to have been murdered along with other Jews from the region while crossing the Dniester River.
In 1999, Ayre-Leib's younger brother, Shmuel Scharf, submitted Pages of Testimony to Yad Vashem in memory of his family. In 2009, Shmuel also donated documents and family photographs to the Yad Vashem Archives, some of which are displayed in this online exhibition.