There is “nothing postmodern or relativistic about Holocaust remembrance,” Israeli President Isaac Herzog said on Wednesday during a speech at a ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
“Absolute evil existed, in the form of the Nazis and their accomplices. And absolute good existed, in the form of the victims and the rebels, from every nation. And in passing this heritage down to posterity, it must reflect this indisputable axiom,” Herzog affirmed at the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes in the Polish capital.
The president arrived in Poland in the morning for the one-day visit.
During the Holocaust, Jews imprisoned in the ghetto rebelled against their persecutors. A small group of starving men and women, armed with meager weapons, staved off the Germans for almost a month—from April 19 until May 16, 1943.
Herzog held meetings with his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.
The Israeli president was then joined at the commemorative ceremony at the POLIN Museum by Duda and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, as well as Holocaust survivors and descendants of the ghetto fighters. Herzog was also scheduled to visit the bunker used by Mordechai Anielewicz and fellow Warsaw Ghetto fighters.
In the evening, Herzog will attend an event at the Nożyk Synagogue alongside the presidents of Poland and Germany, and then hold a meeting with Steinmeier before returning to Israel.
The trip comes after Israel marked Holocaust Remembrance Day on Monday night and Tuesday.
At the opening ceremony at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Herzog referred to the current period, culminating with Israel’s 75th Independence Day next week, as one of “majesty, mercy and truth,” a time when “we can truly hear the heartbeats of an entire nation, standing before their ‘Days of Awe.’
“I appeal to you, citizens of Israel, with a simple prayer: Let us leave these sacred days, which begin tonight and end on Independence Day, above all dispute,” said Herzog. “Let us all come together, as always, in partnership, in grief, in remembrance.
“My sisters and brothers, with human courage and divine assistance, the Allies overcame the forces of tyranny [during the Second World War],” he continued. “With human courage and Divine assistance, spirit triumphed; the spirit of our people, who raised themselves up with scarred wings from the gruesome depths of the Holocaust. It was this spirit that triumphed.”
Seventy-five years ago, there was a “miracle” of rebirth and of light triumphing over darkness, said Herzog, calling Holocaust survivors heroes of resurrection who “serve us as a source of inspiration and hope. Every day, including now.”