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...

  • Sports US & Canada Israeli-American Group Congratulates Cavaliers’ Blatt on Reaching NBA Finals

    Israeli-American Group Congratulates Cavaliers’ Blatt on Reaching NBA Finals

    JNS.org – An organization whose work focuses on the estimated population of 500,000-800,000 Israeli Americans congratulated David Blatt, the Jewish head coach of the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Cleveland Cavaliers and a longtime Israel-based coach, for clinching an appearance in the NBA Finals. The Israeli-American Council (IAC), whose stated mission is “to build an active and giving Israeli-American community throughout the United States in order to strengthen the State of Israel, our next generation, and to provide a bridge to [...]

    Read more →
  • Food US & Canada Bacon Flavor Ben & Jerry’s ‘Not Gonna Happen’ Because it Wouldn’t be Kosher

    Bacon Flavor Ben & Jerry’s ‘Not Gonna Happen’ Because it Wouldn’t be Kosher

    Famed ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s will not be introducing a Bacon flavored product to its offerings because the company intends to keep its entire line kosher, Marketing Director Alison Gilbert told AOL’s morning show Rise recently. “It’s kind of funny, a lot of people look for bacon in our ice cream, which is probably not gonna happen because all of our ice cream is kosher,” she said, referring to Jewish dietary restrictions that proscribe the consumption of pig [...]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports Israeli Judo Team Faces Antisemitic Harassment in Morocco: ‘We Will Murder You’

    Israeli Judo Team Faces Antisemitic Harassment in Morocco: ‘We Will Murder You’

    Israeli athletes at a world Judo championship in Morocco reportedly faced antisemitic slurs during the competition, news site WorldNetDaily reported on Monday. “We will murder you,” and “you’re not wanted here, go home,” were among the vituperative attacks directed at the Israeli Judo Association team, which was in Morocco last week for the World Masters Judo Tournament. According to Haaretz, each Israeli teammate was met with boos and jeers upon entering a fight. Additionally, no Israeli flags were present at [...]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Lady Gaga Accepts ADL Award: ‘Your Philosophies Are So in Line With Ours’ (VIDEO)

    Lady Gaga Accepts ADL Award: ‘Your Philosophies Are So in Line With Ours’ (VIDEO)

    Pop superstar Lady Gaga on Thursday accepted an award from Jewish human rights group the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on behalf of her Born This Way Foundation, which strives to combat bullying among young people. “Your philosophies are so in line with ours,” she said of the ADL upon accepting the Making a Difference Award in a videotaped message, which was shown at a ceremony in New York City. “We want to help young people know that their feelings and who they are on [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Personalities At 80, Singer-Songwriter Leonard Cohen’s Jewish Roots ‘Very Much Intact’

    At 80, Singer-Songwriter Leonard Cohen’s Jewish Roots ‘Very Much Intact’

    JNS.org – Eighty years young, Leonard Cohen fits many descriptions—singer, songwriter, poet, novelist, monk. From his Jewish upbringing in Canada to the present day, Cohen has always explored his spiritual side. This month, the singer-songwriter released the CD (May 12) and iTunes (on May 8 of this year) formats of his latest album, Can’t Forget: A Souvenir of the Grand Tour, which features live recordings from his world tours in 2012 and 2013. Last year, Cohen’s Popular Problems was voted by Rolling Stone [...]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports FIFA Head Says Israel Should Not be Booted From World Soccer Association

    FIFA Head Says Israel Should Not be Booted From World Soccer Association

    JNS.org – Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) head Sepp Blatter said during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that contrary to Palestinian complaints, Israel has not violated any FIFA statutes and should not be suspended from international soccer’s governing body. “We should not come to one federation saying we will exclude them,” said Blatter, the Jerusalem Post reported. “If the national association is fulfilling its obligations then there is no need to intervene,” he said. “I’m on a [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Middle East Sports Jewish Rights Group Slams Palestinian Attempts to Suspend Israel From FIFA

    Jewish Rights Group Slams Palestinian Attempts to Suspend Israel From FIFA

    Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) said on Tuesday it was “appalled” by a Palestinian Football Association initiative to suspend Israel from FIFA, calling it another “front waged in the context of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign.” “We are appalled at the temerity of the Palestinan Football Association (PFA) demand that FIFA suspend Israel at your forthcoming Congress in Zurich,” wrote the group’s international relations director, Dr. Shimon Samuels, in a letter to FIFA President Joseph [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada Star of Auschwitz Thriller Says ‘God Was Holding the Hand of Every Jew in the Gas Chamber’ (VIDEO)

    Star of Auschwitz Thriller Says ‘God Was Holding the Hand of Every Jew in the Gas Chamber’ (VIDEO)

    The lead actor in Son of Saul, an Auschwitz thriller featured at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, told the UK’s The Guardian that he believes God was “holding the hand” of each Jew who died in the Nazi gas chambers during the Holocaust. “I do not for one nanosecond like to pretend that God is off the hook. He could and should have stopped it at a much earlier stage,” Géza Röhrig, 48, said. ”But I would not be able to get [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.