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The annual closing assembly of Holocaust Remembrance Day // April 2017

The annual closing assembly of Holocaust Remembrance Day was held on April 24, at the Ghetto Fighters' House open-air theater, in the presence of some 10,000 people, including many adolescents, members of various youth movements.

The theme of the assembly, titled "Passing the Torch", was the transfer of Holocaust remembrance from the survivors to the future generations. It was attended by the torch lighters and their families, the President of Israel, Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin, Dr. Arye Carmon, Chairman of the Ghetto Fighters' House Board of Directors, Daniel Atar, Chairman of the Jewish National Fund, Nir Meir, Secretary General of the Kibbutz Movement, and the Former President of Germany, Joachim Gauck.

Mr. Gauck moved the audience by saying: "As President, I made a point of returning to the scenes of these horrific events and mass murders perpetrated by Germans. I visited the Jewish community in Ioannina in Greece. I stood in the woods of Babi Yar. I stood at the gates and on the train tracks of Auschwitz. I met with survivors and listened to them and cried with them. I will never forget their stories. But above all, I will never forget their willingness to reach out in friendship to the Germans of today. Passing all of these experiences on to young Germans was one of my objectives during my Presidency, and it has remained one of my objectives even now, as I stand before you as a citizen aware of his responsibility to his country".

He also said: " The fact that we have succeeded in growing so close – in cultural, political, and above all in human terms, is in part due to the fact that when I was young, I and millions of other Germans began to read about and realize what Germans before us had done. There was a time when I was ashamed to be German. I was unable to like my country. I hated it even. My generation viewed our parents with disgust. They disclaimed all culpability, they allegedly knew nothing. The majority of them still maintained this silence in the 1950s and ’60s and refused to accept responsibility for what had happened."

Torch Lighters:

Shraga Filer - Born in Wyszkow, Poland, in 1930.  At the age of ten he was already a partisan in the Belarusian forests. He lighted a torch with his daughter Sarit, a painter whose works address her father's Holocaust memories.

Miri Azulay
- Born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1931, and raised in an orphanage before the war.  She survived the massacre on the Danube at the end of the war, immigrated to Mandate Palestine in July 1947 and was deported to Germany.  After the establishment of the State of Israel, she came with the Youth Aliyah enterprise to Kibbutz Evron, where she still lives.

Dr. Moshe Shner
- Born in Kibbutz Lohamei HaGhetaot, lighted a torch on behalf of his parents, Zvi and Sara, who survived the Holocaust in Poland and founded the Ghetto Fighters' House and its archive, the world's first Holocaust-related one.

Rachel Altaraz
- the only surviving Jew from Štip, Macedonia. She was sent with her family to “Monopol”, a tobacco factory in Skopje. She was transferred through several camps until she reached an orphanage at the end of the war.  According to the German records, she had perished.

Lucia Retman
- Born in Dynow, Poland. She survived thanks to a Polish woman who provided her with a forged birth certificate, as well as her acting skills, her European looks and most of all - her will to live.
Baruch Hod - Born as Barend van der Hoeden in 1924 in the Netherlands. He was active in the Dutch resistance and switched 13 hideouts. He took part twice in Operation “Pegasus” to evacuate Allied paratroopers trapped on German-occupied territory. He married Sara, also a Holocaust survivor, who had lost her entire family.
The wreath for the Righteous Among the Nations was laid by Betty Bachar Ozeri, who was rescued by Aleksander and Blaga Todorov, close friends of her parents. She was born in Skopje, Macedonia, in 1939. She was raised as a Christian and only at a late age did she tell her children that their Macedonian grandparents are in fact her adopting parents.  Her biological parents perished in Treblinka.

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