Holocaust Remembrance Day Marked
JERUSALEM (AP) _ Sirens wailed across Israel today, bringing the nation to a standstill for two minutes as it paid tribute to the 6 million Jews who perished in the Nazi Holocaust.
In towns and villages, at work and at play, people stopped in their tracks. In the Israeli Red Sea resort of Eilat, Palestinian and Israeli negotiators interrupted peace treaty talks and stood side-by-side in a show of respect for the victims.
In Talpiot, an industrial neighborhood of Jerusalem, car mechanics dropped their tools, buses pulled to a stop and an old man riding a donkey pulled tight the reins to bring the animal to a halt.
At a doughnut shop on Jerusalem’s downtown Jaffa Street, the teen-age girl behind the counter hurried to turn off the noisy iced-cappuccino machine. Patrons brushed crumbs from their laps and stood up, gazing silently out into the street where the usual snarl of buses, taxis, cars and scooters was abruptly frozen in place.
A moment after the siren stopped, the street was full of activity again. Traffic roared back to life. A juice vendor and his customer picked up their transaction that had been halted in mid-sentence.
As part of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Cabinet ministers and Holocaust survivors read out names of child victims in a special ceremony in parliament entitled ``Each Person has a Name″ and attended by Prime Minister Ehud Barak.
Restaurants and movie theaters remained closed from sunset Monday to sunset today, and somber music and survivors’ stories were broadcast on radio and TV stations.
Hannah Pik, who survived the Bergen-Belsen death camp in Germany as a girl and now lives in Israel, said she met her friend Anne Frank at the camp years after they had last seen each other in Holland.
``At first we started to cry. `What are you doing here? I had hoped you were in Switzerland,′ I told her,‴ Pik recalled in an interview on Israel radio. ``And then she told me that it was too dangerous. They didn’t even try to get away.″
Frank’s diary describing her family’s two years of hiding in an Amsterdam attic is one of the enduring accounts of the Holocaust. Her family was betrayed in 1944 and she died of typhus in Bergen-Belsen just weeks before it was liberated in the spring of 1945.
In another account, Aharon Parchikovsky, who was born in the ghetto of Lodz in Nazi-occupied Poland in 1940, a year after the outbreak of World War II, said his father had told him to stay indoors so German soldiers wouldn’t find him.
His father warned him not to respond if he heard voices calling on children to come and pick up candy. ``Don’t dare leave because they will take you and burn you,″ Parchikovsky quoted his father as admonishing him as a child.
Officials at Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial renewed a campaign to collect ``Pages of Testimony,″ or forms to be filled out for each victim by his or her relatives. Some 350,000 pages have already been collected since the campaign began last year.
At the peace treaty talks, the chief Israeli negotiator, Oded Eran, said he appreciated that his Palestinian colleagues got up from their seats to stand in tribute to the Holocaust victims. In the past, Israelis and Palestinians often accused one another of refusing to acknowledge the other side’s pain.
``I want to mention that the Palestinian delegation expressed its feelings very clearly,″ Eran said. ``I think that this is a confidence-building measure.″