Murder of Jews and others recalled at ceremony

Mon, Jan 28, 2013, 00:00

International Holocaust Memorial Day was marked in Ireland by a poignant ceremony in Dublin where candles were lit to represent the six million Jews and millions of people of other ethnic groups killed by the Third Reich during the second World War.

Music by three composers sent to the Terezin* concentration camp, who later perished by gassing in camps, was played and sung at the ceremony in the Mansion House, Dublin.

Pupils from across Ireland read the names of hundreds killed in the Holocaust or Shoah. Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said EU ministers had agreed with his proposal for a more co-ordinated and focused approach in confronting racism, anti-Semitism and prejudice across Europe.

He said EU states must not silently observe the resurgence of anti-Semitic hate crime in Europe. The Minister became emotional during his keynote address at the moving ceremony attended by over 500.

Describing the Holocaust catastrophe as communal, he said “from the shtetls and cities of Europe, we have lost the rabbis who taught Talmud in the Yeshivas, the cantors who sang prayers in synagogues, the families gathered for Shabbat, the physicians, philosophers, musicians, authors, artists, actors, poets, scientists, geneticists, entrepreneurs and farmers”.

Minister of State for Europe Lucinda Creighton highlighted the “crocus project” started in Ireland in 2005 and now marked in seven EU states, where schoolchildren plant the flower to remember the 1.5 million children killed in the Holocaust. Holocaust survivor Tomi Reichental spoke of being sent to Belsen with four family members in November 1944.

He described the hunger and disease, the cruelty of the camp guards and the deaths of hundreds: “I lost 35 members of my family in the Holocaust.”

Incidents before and during the war were recalled including Kristallnacht, the Wannsee conference where it took Nazi leaders less than two hours to support the “final solution”.

Other speakers included survivor Suzi Diamond, Chief Justice Susan Denham, Editor of The Irish Times Kevin O’Sullivan and Israeli ambassador to Ireland Boaz Modai.

*This article was edited at noon on Thursday, January 31st.