The Holocaust Remembered

Seen through the reflection of stained class, choir member Ruth Engman listens to stories about the Holocaust during the Yom Hashoah Commemoration, Sunday, April 18, 2004, at the Temple Beth Israel in Longboat Key, Fla., as part of their Holocaust Remembrance Day.
AP
Israel was remembering the Holocaust Monday, while many communities in the U.S. marked Holocaust Remembrance Day on Sunday with services and memorials.

Sirens wailed in Israeli cities, reports CBS News Correspondent Robert Berger, and Israelis observed two minutes of silence in memory of the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis in World War II. Traffic came to a standstill, and people got out of their cars and stood reverently on the streets. Somber music played on the radio, places of entertainment were closed, and schools devoted the day to the study of the Holocaust.

Holocaust Remembrance Day falls near the April 19, 1943, anniversary of the start of the Warsaw ghetto uprising, when Jews used homemade bombs and stolen weapons to resist death camp deportation by the Nazis for nearly a month.

Some U.S. communities marked the anniversary on Sunday, others, like Chicago, had events planned for Monday.

At a memorial service Sunday in Potomac, Md., a Washington suburb, six survivors lit six candles representing the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust. Each survivor was accompanied by a child and grandchild.

In Maine, a man who escaped the Holocaust as a child shared his story at a synagogue, describing how Nazi storm troopers tried to round up his family in Vienna, Austria. Alex Wilde eventually made it to safety in Scotland and was later reunited with his parents after they escaped to Britain.

Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called crimes against Jewish people crimes against humanity at an annual Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony Sunday.

"We accept the Holocaust as a symbol of our duty and responsibility to prevent such travesties from ever happening again," said Schwarzenegger, a longtime supporter of Holocaust memorial efforts who also paid for an investigation into his father's Nazi past.

The governor noted that his native Austria had "a history of prejudice, violence and bloodshed" and said he was attracted to the United States for its "devotion to human rights and our acceptance of all people."

The event drew about 3,000 people to the Los Angeles Holocaust Monument in Pan Pacific Park.

Holocaust Awareness Week in Denver started Sunday with about 300 people gathering for a memorial service hosted by the University of Denver's Holocaust Awareness Institute, part of the university's Center for Judaic Studies.

A Calgary man who wanted nothing more than to forget the horrors he experienced as an inmate of Auschwitz during the Second World War said it was the insulting efforts of Holocaust deniers spurred him to come forward to tell his terrible tale.

Oscar Kirshner and nearly 800 of Calgary's Jewish community attended a memorial service there Sunday.

It was the first time Holocaust Memorial Day has been recognized nationally in Canada.

Braving overcast skies and pouring rain, about 2,000 members of Toronto's Jewish community gathered in a park Sunday to commemorate worldwide Holocaust Remembrance Day.

For Canadian Jews still smarting from a recent spate of hate attacks in Ontario and Quebec, honoring Holocaust victims was bereavement of their bloodstained past, but also a chilling reminder that anti-Semitism flourishes in their present.

"Never should we forget how short is the road from hate speech to genocide," said Judy Coven, a Holocaust survivor who recounted her experiences in Auschwitz, the infamous Nazi death camp in Poland.

Live cello music provided a somber backdrop as participants, covered by a tent, lit six white candles on a black wooden candelabra in memory of the six million Jewish victims of the Second World War. There was also poetry, singing and prayer — all in the shadow of Toronto's Holocaust Wall of Remembrance and its inextinguishable flame that roared brightly against the gray sky.

Communities also gathered in Montreal and Ottawa for remembrance ceremonies.

Hungary's Holocaust Memorial Center, which incorporates an old synagogue, exhibit halls and documentation archives, opened last week on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the start of the Holocaust in Hungary amid tight security.

Nazi-allied Hungarian authorities started rounding up Jews in the countryside on April 16, 1944, ahead of their deportation to concentration camps.

France donated $500,000 to the memorial center, which is the fifth state-funded Holocaust museum in the world, after others in Jerusalem, London, Berlin and Washington.

A two-mile march was planned in Poland Monday from the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz to the gas chambers at Birkenau.