Prime Minister Netanyahu, Sara Netanyahu, Chairman Avner Shalev, and Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, thank you for hosting us for this moving wreath laying ceremony. We are here at Yad Vashem to honor the memory of six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust.
Two-thirds of the Jews of Europe were sent to their deaths. Words can never describe the bottomless depths of that evil, or the scope of the anguish and destruction.
It was history's darkest hour. Millions of innocent, wonderful and beautiful lives – men, women and children – were extinguished as part of a systematic attempt to eliminate the Jewish people.
It was the most savage crime against God and His children, and it is our solemn duty to remember, to mourn, to grieve and to honor every single life that was so cruelly and viciously taken.
As Elie Wiesel said, "For the dead and the living, we must bear witness." These words should be carved into the conscience of humanity forever. Only when we remember the families who were torn apart from everyone they loved, who suffered that terrible darkness and evil, who had endured the unbearable horror of the Holocaust, only then can we prevent this agony from ever repeating.
This place and this entire nation are a testament to the unbreakable spirit of the Jewish people and the hope that light can shine the path beyond the darkness. Through persecution, oppression, death and destruction the Jewish people have persevered, they have thrived, they have become so successful in so many places, and they have enlightened the world.
The State of Israel is a strong and soaring monument to the solemn pledge we repeat and affirm, 'Never Again'. From the depths of the suffering, the Jewish people have built a mighty nation and the Star of David waves proudly above this cherished land.
As long as we refuse to be silent in the face of evil, as long as we refuse to dim the light of truth in the midst of darkness, as long as we refuse to become bystanders to barbarity then we know that goodness, peace and justice will ultimately prevail.
With sadness for the lives and dreams that were stolen from this Earth, with determination to always keep the memories of the victims alive, and with resolve to confront evil wherever it threatens, we ask God to give us the strength, wisdom and courage to chart the righteous path.
Thank you. God bless the memory of the perished, God bless the survivors, God bless the Jewish People, and God bless the State of Israel.
Thank you for having me. Thank you.
Ester Goldstein's personal album is one of hundreds of thousands of personal items preserved for posterity in the Yad Vashem Archives.
The album is comprised of messages of hope and everlasting friendship inscribed by Ester's family and friends. Some of the pages are embellished with optimistic and innocent illustrations, while others include photographs of those dearest to her.
In 1961, Yad Vashem inaugurated the Hall of Remembrance, the first Holocaust commemoration site established at Yad Vashem on the Mount of Remembrance.
The Hall is an imposing structure, with walls made of basalt boulders brought from the area surrounding the Sea of Galilee, and an angular roof that gives it a tent-like shape. Engraved on the mosaic floor are the names of 22 of the most infamous Nazi murder sites, symbolic of the hundreds of extermination and concentration camps, transit camps and killing sites that existed throughout Europe.
The Eternal Flame, burning from a base fashioned like a broken bronze goblet, continuously illuminates the Hall, its smoke exiting the building through an opening at the highest point of the ceiling. Before it stands a stone crypt containing the ashes of Holocaust victims, brought to Israel from the extermination camps.
A focal point of commemoration to this day, the Hall of Remembrance serves as Yad Vashem’s premier site for memorial ceremonies.
Design: Architects Arieh Elhanani, Arieh Sharon and Benjamin Idelson; Eternal Flame: Kosso Eloul; Southern Gate: David Palombo; Western Gate, Bezalel Schatz