A Hungarian Jew, whose whole family was killed in the Holocaust, was sent to various concentration camps. At Mauthausen in Austria, an SS officer would wake him and other prisoners up every day. “‘You dream of Jerusalem?’ the officer would yell at them. ‘You will never get to see Jerusalem. You will only see Jerusalem only through chimneys of the furnaces,’ ” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
But the Jewish man never gave up, survived the Holocaust and moved to Israel. He didn’t live in Jerusalem, but he never forgot that city. He started a large family, and as an older man, began working at the Western Wall (Kotel), as Netanyahu told it, speaking at the state opening ceremony for Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day 2023 at Yad Vashem on April 17.
“That was the greatest victory over the Nazis,” Netanyahu said. Working every day at the Kotel, the man, who passed away at 95 a year-and-a-half ago, felt there was a great turn from Holocaust to rebirth and resurrection.
“A true symbol of our triumph over our enemies,” said Netanyahu.
The scars of the pain of the Holocaust remain forever, he continued. But he also said to the survivors: “You chose life. You believed in good. You helped others.” Many started large families, he noted.
“The height of this victory is the independence of our 75-year-old country. Israel is a vibrant, free, democratic country, with so many achievements,” he said.
But past victories don’t guarantee future ones, and there is a “relentless battle against those who seek to kill us,” Netanyahu cautioned. He said Israel must not allow a nuclear Iran and must fight its terrorist proxies all around.
“Our enemies,” he stated, “will find us standing shoulder to shoulder together.”