Knesset: Holocaust Victims Cry 'From the Depths'
JERUSALEM, Israel -- Monday marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorating the horrors of World War II when the Nazis tried to exterminate the Jewish people from the face of the earth, beginning with European Jewry.
Six million Jews perished in the Holocaust and each one has a story. Rina Quint is one who survived the Third Reich's genocidal march through Europe.
"When we came into Bergen-Belsen, just the way my father predicted, I never saw my father again," Quint recalled, as if it happened yesterday.
"But just the way he predicted, we had to get undressed to go into the showers, and I was holding on tightly to my pictures," she said.
A German soldier tore up those pictures, but Quint survived the Gestapo's inhumane treatment and lived to tell about the day she and her fellow inmates were freed.
"Something happened that day that never happened before. People who never walked faster than a snail's pace were running, and people who never spoke a whisper were shouting, and new soldiers came in wearing different uniforms and everybody kept on saying, 'You're free, you're free," she said.
Nearly 70 years after the Holocaust, aging survivors are dying at an alarming rate, nearly one every hour. That's why many are trying to preserve the memory of the Holocaust for the next generation.
One way to preserve that memory is what the Israeli Knesset is doing. For the first time in its history, more than half of the Knesset members have gone to Auschwitz in Poland to commemorate the day.
Each MK is accompanying a Holocaust survivor, many of whom are returning to the camp for the first time. They will join world leaders and members of the U.S. Congress.
Auschwitz-Birkenau is the most infamous of the Nazi death camps. Three million victims of the Holocaust died in Poland -- nearly a million and a half in that camp. Sixty-nine years ago, British forces liberated it.
The event with Knesset members is part of a program called "From the Depths." The name comes from the Book of Psalms, chapter 130, verse 1: "From the depths I call out to You."
According to their mission statement, "The organization was created by descendants of Holocaust survivors to ensure that the memories of their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents lives on."
They decry the growing anti-Semitism in the world and serve as one more reminder of the cry after the Holocaust, "Never Again."
For Quint, life went on. After leaving Bergen-Belsen, she was granted asylum in Sweden along with 6,000 other Jews. After surviving a serious illness, she traveled to Brooklyn where a childless couple adopted her.
At the age of 10, she began to enjoy a life far removed from the Holocaust and its horrors.
"I really was an American princess. I had everything. I had birthday parties, I had aunts and uncles, I had grandparents, I had a mother and father -- none of them biological. Most survivors never have that chance," she said.
After moving to Israel in the 1980s, Quint now has four children, 22 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren. The act of remembering family members has become very important to her.
To do that she's entering her parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins in Yad Vashem's Hall of Names.
"I think it is important to do because they have a right to be buried even on paper," she said.