Holocaust Remembrance Day Observed
JERUSALEM (AP) _ Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiators stood side-by-side in tribute to the 6 million victims of the Holocaust today as sirens wailed across Israel, bringing the country to a standstill for two minutes to reflect on the horrors of the Nazi genocide.
In towns and villages, at work and at play, people stopped in their tracks when sirens went off at 10 a.m. for Holocaust Remembrance Day.
In the Israeli Red Sea resort of Eilat, negotiators interrupted peace treaty talks and stood in silence. The chief Israeli negotiator, Oded Eran, said he appreciated the gesture of his Palestinian colleagues, saying it was a sign of good will. In the past, Israelis and Palestinians often accused one another of refusing to acknowledge the other side’s pain.
However, in Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem, residents went about their daily routines as usual. On Salah Edin Street, a busy shopping area, some passers-by asked why the siren was going off, but didn’t stop what they were doing.
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.
The commemorations, which lasted from sundown Monday to sundown today, were kicked off with a ceremony at Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial. Restaurants and movie theaters remained closed, and somber music and survivors’ stories were broadcast on radio and TV stations.
At parliament, Cabinet ministers and Holocaust survivors read out names of child victims at a special ceremony entitled ``Each Person has a Name,″ attended by Prime Minister Ehud Barak.
Hannah Pik, who survived the Bergen-Belsen death camp in Germany as a girl and now lives in Israel, was a friend of Anne Frank, whose diary describing her family’s two years of hiding in an Amsterdam attic is one of the enduring accounts of the Holocaust.
Pik remembered meeting Frank at the camp years after they had last seen each other in the Netherlands.
``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 (Frank) told me that it was too dangerous, they didn’t even try to get away.″
Frank’s family was betrayed and taken from its hiding place 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 recalled his father admonishing him as a child.
Officials at Yad Vashem 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.