It’s truly impossible to forget the crimes of Nazi Germany committed during World War II. Moreover, to take the stance this doesn’t affect you is a double crime. With these words Panevėžys deputy mayor Petras Lomanas began his speech at an event to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Sad Jewish Mother monument and the Jewish cemetery in Panevėžys on January 26.
Today even the rotten weather and the endless rain reminds us of the Holocaust in which 6 million European Jews were brutally murdered. There should be no place for anti-Semitism in the world, nor for terrorism, war and intolerance, he said.
Lithuanian Jewish Community executive director Renaldas Vaisbrodas said at the event they were there to remember the Jews tortured and shot throughout Lithuania, more than 200,000 people. Only a few survived the ghettos, prisons and concentration camps, he said. More than 600,000 Jews fought against Nazi Germany in World War II. Many died, or returned from the battlefield with disabilities. Vaisbrodas said it was important to preserve the memory of the Holocaust for his generation.
Some at the event carried signs with the inscription “We Remember.”
Panevėžys Jewish Community chairman Gennady Kofman reminded the audience the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution in 2005 making January 27 the International Day of Holocaust Remembrance. “Today the whole world is marking International Holocaust Day,” Kofman said. The date marks the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland in 1945. The Auschwitz-Birkenau complex was the largest Nazi death camp where about 1.5 million people were murdered, mainly Jews.
“We remember today also those who risked their lives and those of their families to save Jews from certain death,” chairman Kofman said. He pointed out two children of rescuers in attendance, Vidmantas and Janina Markevičius. “This is the family of Juozas Markevičius, a family with seven children of their won, who hid for a year and a half a Jewish family of nine people, who now live in Israel.”
The commemorative ceremony continued at the Ghetto Gate monument in Panevėžys. More than 10,000 Jews from Panevėžys and the surrounding area were imprisoned in a ghetto from July to August in 1941. More than 13,000 Jews were murdered in the nearby Kurganava forest, Žalioji forest and at the Staniūnai settlement.
The commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day concluded at the Panevėžys Jewish Community with a screening of a documentary about Auschwitz, followed by the lighting of the Sabbath candles.