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."
Pictures from the assembly