Holocaust lesson endures

first_imgWearing a yarmulke and quoting Anne Frank, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Sunday led the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day commemoration, calling on the world to keep its faith in humanity — as the young writer did during World War II — even as it fights ongoing genocide in Darfur and elsewhere. Against the backdrop of a Holocaust monument at Pan Pacific Park, the largest Remembrance Day commemoration in Southern California drew about 2,000 people — including about 75 death-camp survivors — and several dozen officials and dignitaries. This year’s event paid special tribute to the 1.5 million children whom the Nazis killed. “Here, surrounded by family and friends, we celebrate the lives of, and mourn the loss of, the most defenseless of all victims of the greatest crime in human history,” Villaraigosa said. “Three generations later, we still find ourselves blinded by the sunlight in the fragments they have left behind. From a cold and dark attic in Amsterdam, Anne Frank pledged her faith in humanity. ” ‘It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out,’ she wrote. ‘Yet, I keep them because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.’ “Today, we remember the promise of those words. We remember the lost legacy of an entire generation of philosophers and artists and scientists extinguished before they were ever to bloom.” The event, held under a huge blue-and-white striped tent — the colors of the Israeli flag — also recognized Hadassah Lieberman, the daughter of Holocaust survivors and the wife of Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn. Other speakers included Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who received a standing ovation from many in the audience. Schwarzenegger shared stories he said his mother told him when he was younga youngster about her own remembrances of the Holocaust in Austria. “She told me of bodies she saw lying on the side of the road, shot to death because they were Jews,” he recalled. “Another time, she saw bodies hanging from the trees in our state park. “This monument is a reminder of the terrible and tragic destruction of the Holocaust. Its symbols help us to remember the 6 million Jews who were murdered and the inhumane conditions they suffered at the hands of the Nazis.” Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis of the Valley Beth Congregation in Encino delivered the opening message. On April 27, his synagogue will host a commemoration of the Armenian genocide as a way of acknowledging all holocausts. “All holocausts are the same in one regard,” he said. “They are all fueled by hatred, greed and envy, and they all haunt our memories.” In the San Fernando Valley on Sunday night, six Holocaust survivors were scheduled to tell their stories to children at the Kadima Hebrew Academy in West Hills to pass on the stories and keep with the day’s overall theme of never forgetting. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more