JERUSALEM, Israel - Today marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which honors the 6 million Jews who died at the hands of the Nazis.
Tourists have not visited Yad Vashem, Israel’s official Holocaust memorial, for nearly a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shaya Ben Yehuda, Managing Director of the International Relations Division at Yad Vashem, opened the memorial exclusively to CBN News to tell its story.
“Yad Vashem’s name [comes] from the book of Isaiah, a place of memory for each of the people that followed the way of the Lord,” Ben Yehuda told CBN News, adding that the memorial’s message to the word “is that each of those that perished in the Holocaust should be remembered.”
The museum traces the story from before World War II through the horrors of the Holocaust.
“My mother was born in Germany. She grew up before hitter came into power. But she witnessed what happened in Germany when Hitler came to power. She witnessed the atrocity [that] was developed. She saw how Jews were taken out of schools. She saw when they were not being able to be part of the society anymore,” Ben Yehuda explained. “As years moved forward, reality got worse and worse for the Jews.”
Ben Yehuda lost many of his family in the Holocaust. His grief is still felt at Yad Vashem.
“We come here and we start crying. We cry for what happened to humanity. What happened to those who were created in the image of the Lord. That they forgot that they were created in the image of God and they have decided to take the life of [others],” he said.
Mass murder took place on an industrial scale at the hands of the Nazis. For Ben Yehuda, like many others, it is hard to comprehend how and why the Nazis perfected genocide.
Six million perished. Yet some stood with and saved Jews who are remembered at the Avenue of the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem.
“The Righteous Among the Nations are non-Jews who put their own life in risk in order to try and help Jews during the Holocaust. They were not bystanders. They did not turn their back. They didn’t cooperate. They didn’t collaborate. They have decided that they will come forward and will try to be active,” said Ben Yehuda.
Although Auschwitz was liberated on this day 76 years ago, Ben Yehuda says the lesson of the Holocaust is a lesson for today.
“Wherever you see atrocity, wherever you see anti-Semitism or any other hatred, please stand up,” he said. “Sometimes your voice is not enough. You have to be active in order to stop those atrocities.”
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