by: Larry James - Last updated: 2005-01-27
While dignitaries from around the world gathered in Poland to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz, Israelis noted the occasion in their own way.
The atmosphere in Israel was subdued. No official ceremonies were held at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial. But the observance did not go unnoticed. Israeli Radio and TV had live coverage of the event in Poland and the commemoration is front page news in all the papers. On Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon marked the occasion in an address before the Israeli parliament.
Mr Sharon said Israel has learned the lesson of the Holocaust and that it must defend itself from its enemies and serve as a shelter for Jews everywhere.
Mr Sharon had nothing but condemnation for a world that stood by while six million Jews were slaughtered. He said, "We can rely only on ourselves." This sentiment has been expressed by others too.
Dr Giselle Sinkowicz is a psychologist for Amcha, the organization for Holocaust survivors and is herself a survivor. "I went to the Hungarian group in May, 1944. All in all I was a year in the camps, half a year in Auschwitz, and another half year in a work camp, in a labor camp," she said.
Dr Sinkowicz says the experience is one no one could forget.
"I hate to say it, but I do not trust anyone, anyone who is not Jewish. German people who come here and I talk to them, and I tell them how I feel, and I tell them what I experienced, and I say I cannot hold you responsible," she said. "But I know, I know that somewhere he absorbed, he drank with [his] mother's milk hatred for Jews."
The echoes of the Holocaust still resonate with the people of Israel. For some, forgiveness may be too much to ask.
But a footnote to the remembrances appeared in the daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronot. The paper said that last year, 2,200 Israeli citizens, descendants of Holocaust victims, asked to have the German citizenship revoked by the Nazis renewed.