Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Full Transcript: Speech by Shimon Peres for Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day

April 7, 2013 3:17 pm 1 comment

Israeli president Shimon Peres speaking at ceremony honoring Joseph Trumpeldor. Photo: Mark Neyman/GPO

Below is the full transcript of Israeli President Shimon Peres’s speech delivered on Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day 2013.

Dear Holocaust survivors, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Speaker of the Knesset, Yuli Edelstein, President of the Supreme Court, Justice Asher Grunis, Chief Rabbis Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Rabbi Yona Metzger, our dear friend Prime Minister Tony Blair, our dear friend the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, John Baird, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council Rabbi Israel Meir Lau Chairman of the Directorate of Yad Vashem Avner Shalev. Righteous Among the Nations, honored guests, the Holocaust will not sink into the dark hole of history. It is here with us, burning, real.

It resonates as we step on the stones of the ghettos. It floats like a ghost in the barracks of the camps. It cries from the prayer shawls, the hair, the shoes that we see with our own eyes. It whispers from the tears that dried before we said goodbye. It is reflected in the photographs of the babies in their mothers’ arms. The noise of those murderous trains which have ceased stills rings in our ears. The smoke which has not faded as it drifted into the sky above.

Survivors walk among us, the Holocaust and its horrors are with them every day. Their blood flows through our veins. Their bravery accompanies every step of our lives. There was no greater horror in the history of mankind. Nothing can remove the greatest darkness that mankind has known The 74 years which have passed are more biography than history. Millions of names are still missing, of parents and children, of whole Jewish communities who were murdered. There is no substitute for the culture, for the values, for the talents which were and are no longer. They remain as an open wound.

We will not stop searching for every scrap of information, for a name yet to be identified, for a photograph that has been blurred. A third of our people, six million, were murdered with no reason. The Jewish people today are fewer in number then on the eve of World War Two. We decreased in number, but not in spirit. We are working with all our might to fill the void, physically and spiritually, to grow out of the ashes, to create out of nothing, to build protection, to build a new independence, and not tire from working for a better world, for Tikkun Olam.

The Holocaust is an orphan with no comfort and a moral responsibility without compromise. It does not permit us, the Jewish people, to turn a blind eye. It must always be a warning to the entire human family. The map of Europe stills contains local stains of anti-Semitism. Racism erupted on that land in the last century and dragged it down to its lowest point. Ultimately the murder which came from her, damaged her.

To our shame, there remain some who learned nothing. Young skinheads. False scientists dressed in false suits. Yes! There remain those who forget the Holocaust, those who deny it.

Not all the flames have been extinguished. Crises are once again exploited to form Nazi parties, ridiculous but dangerous. Sickening anti-Semitic cartoons are published allegedly in the name of press freedom. The journey for justice and freedom is not yet over. When I hear the four words, ‘Let My People Go’ I feel again and again that the journey out of the house of slavery, which began in our people and has not yet ended, must not stop. It must not stop until slavery, in all its forms, is stopped. In every place, in every situation. Until the winds of freedom blow away the stench of racism and decimate the evil smoke.

The civilized world must ask itself how in such a short space of time after the crematoria were extinguished, after the terrible death toll that the allied powers endured to put an end to the Nazi devil, it is still possible for the leadership, like that of Iran, to openly deny the Holocaust and threaten another Holocaust. Whoever ignores the threat against one nation, must know that the threat of a Holocaust against one nation is a threat of a Holocaust against all nations. The Jewish people are a small nation in number but large in spirit. That spirit cannot be burned in the ovens.

From the ashes of the Holocaust rose spiritual redemption and political rebirth. We rose and we built a state of our own. We lost possessions, but retained our values. We returned to our ancient homeland. We renewed our moral legacy. We returned to independence. We returned to creating, to educating and we returned to hope. We built a defensive force capable of dealing with dangers, new and old. The Israel Defence Forces, which was formed in response to the attempt to annihilate the Jewish State which had just been created, is also the right lesson from the Holocaust. It is founded upon the bravery of Jews in the Holocaust.

Today, Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day is also the memorial day for 70 years since the beginning of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. There was a never a rebellion like it. They were so few and their bravery remained as a model for so many. From now and forever. Today we salute their bravery with the flags flying in the wind of freedom. These are flags of exaltation, not only of grief. A clear line exists between the resistance in the ghettos, in the camps and in the forests and the rebirth and bravery of the State of Israel. It is a line of dignity, of renewed independence, of mutual responsibility, of exalting g-d’s name. As a ray of hope which was not extinguished even during terrible anguish. The ghetto fighters sought life even when circumstance screamed despair.

A few days ago Peretz Hochman passed away. The small tobacco seller who became a great hero. Peretz Hochman came home to Israel and fought in Israel’s wars with the courage which typified him. He passed away only a few days before he was meant to stand with us, here today, on this stage and light the torch. His light will continue to illuminate. Raising the heroism of the fighters is not just a matter of doing justice to their bravery. It is an existential need, for each of us, for all us as a people. It is time. We did not always listen to the beat of their hearts. To the health. The time has come to repair.

The history of the Holocaust is not just a lesson from the past, it is also a lesson for the future. That we will know to defend ourselves against dangers and intercept them before time. That we can rely on ourselves. That we must maintain our moral legacy, which withstood even impossible situations. That we can maintain friendship with friends, and work with them to foster a better future, for every person, for every nation, for all nations, and to guard against humanity ever losing its humanity again.

We’ll ensure that every person will have the right to be different, different and equal. We will never despair. After all, we were commanded; “Do not fear, my servant Jacob” because “The Lord will give strength to his people.”

1 Comment

  • Yoel Nitzarim

    Mr. Peres, the President of the Jewish State of Israel, expresses the hopes and wishes of the jewish people in Israel so articulately, so consummately. His commemoration of the past in conjunction with his hope for the future should be commensurate with the understanding that we Jews in Israel create a better life for ourselves as well as our children and their children in the years to come. It is our hope and duty to do so.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Relationships Yossi Vardi Credits Pushy Jewish Mother for His Startup Success

    Yossi Vardi Credits Pushy Jewish Mother for His Startup Success

    Millionaire entrepreneur Yossi Vardi credited his success in start-ups to his Jewish mother continuously pushing him to do better, Daily Mail reported on Thursday. “Jewish mothers are never satisfied and nothing is ever good enough,” he said, adding that his mother, who died 15 years ago, used to compare him with his cousins and say he was “an idiot.” “For most of my life I have been trying to show her I’m not,” he continued. “I keep on trying even now.” Vardi, […]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada Seth Rogen Unveils New Christmas Movie — ‘Will Open on Thanksgiving, Made by Jews’ (VIDEO)

    Seth Rogen Unveils New Christmas Movie — ‘Will Open on Thanksgiving, Made by Jews’ (VIDEO)

    Famed actor Seth Rogen on Tuesday unveiled with typical comic fanfare the trailer for his new Christmas film. The movie “was made by Jews… and opens on Thanksgiving,” Rogen pointed out on Twitter. The Night Before tells the tale of three “ride or die homies” celebrating one last debauchery-filled Christmas Eve reunion before they become too busy to keep up their annual tradition. In an effort to make the night as memorable as possible, they set out to find the “Nutcracka Ball – the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish History Art Can Inspire Faith; It Can Also Empower Destructive Ideologies

    Art Can Inspire Faith; It Can Also Empower Destructive Ideologies

    A June 2015 art exhibit, “The Transformative Power of Art,” at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, harnessed the universal language of art to convey an important message: “Our fragile Mother Earth faces the devastating consequences of climate change, a defining challenge of our time.” The exhibit also included sixteen portraits of people from all over the world who have “contributed to the common good of humanity in one way or another and have transformed the way we […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports Israeli Muslim Cage Fighter Says He’s Proud to Fight Under Jewish State’s Flag

    Israeli Muslim Cage Fighter Says He’s Proud to Fight Under Jewish State’s Flag

    A 32-year-old Circassian Israeli Muslim Mixed Martial Arts fighter from Abu Ghosh says he takes pride in fighting under the Israeli flag, Israel’s Walla reported on Sunday. Like most Circassian Israelis, Jackie “the Punishment” Gosh was born Sunni Muslim. He became observant about eight years ago, and is now scrupulous in following his religion’s tenets, praying five times a day and fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. Gosh is also very proud of his Israeli nationality, and sees no contradiction between […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Music New Mark Skinner Documentary Explores Jewish, Arab Rap Scene in Israel (VIDEO)

    New Mark Skinner Documentary Explores Jewish, Arab Rap Scene in Israel (VIDEO)

    A new documentary explores the lives and work of Jewish and Arab rappers in Israel and how the ongoing conflict in the region has impacted their lyrics, the U.K.’s Jewish Chronicle reported on Thursday. Hip Hop in the Holy Land is a six-part series co-directed by Mike Skinner, the British frontman of hip-hop group The Streets, and produced by Noisey, a music channel published by Vice news. The first episode, published last week, shows Skinner meeting with Tamer Nafar, the founder of one of […]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada 49ers Running Back Jarryd Hayne Apologizes for ‘Hurtful’ Jesus Tweets

    49ers Running Back Jarryd Hayne Apologizes for ‘Hurtful’ Jesus Tweets

    New 49ers running back and Australian rugby star Jarryd Hayne apologized on Wednesday for a tweet in which he raised the age-old myth that Jews were historically responsible for Jesus Christ’s death. Reaching out to his Jewish fans, and the chairman of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission, Hayne tweeted: “To the Jewish community @DvirAbramovich #WeAreAllOne.” Underneath, he keenly included a screenshot of a text message to elaborate on his apology: “I sincerely apologize for my tweets on July 1. I […]

    Read more →
  • Theater Israeli Actress Gal Gadot Recalls Being ‘Extremely Surprised’ at Winning Miss Israel Contest

    Israeli Actress Gal Gadot Recalls Being ‘Extremely Surprised’ at Winning Miss Israel Contest

    Israeli actress Gal Gadot reminisced about her childhood in Israel during an interview published in this month’s edition of Vanity Fair. “I don’t remember this, but my mom told me that when I was three they threw a party on the rooftop of the house. They put me to bed, and I heard people coming into the house and no one came to me. I went to the rooftop and took a hose and I started to spray water on everyone, just […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Wounded Israeli Soldiers Unite With American Veterans to Help Their ‘Brothers for Life’ Heal (INTERVIEW)

    Wounded Israeli Soldiers Unite With American Veterans to Help Their ‘Brothers for Life’ Heal (INTERVIEW)

    An Israeli organization is helping wounded U.S. veterans move past their physical and psychological challenges by connecting them with injured Israeli soldiers who understand what they’ve been through. “What we discovered very early is that there’s no ‘professional, psychiatrist, social worker’ or anything like that [or] pills that can come even close to helping a soldier who fought in combat, who was wounded, who lost his friends. No one can help him like another person who’s been through exactly what he has,” Rabbi Chaim Levine, […]

    Read more →