Remembering the past for the future’s sake

The 27th of January 2015 marked the 70’s anniversary of the prisoners’ liberation from the Auschwitz death camp. About two million people were killed there, most of them were Jews.

A number of solemn events took place in Lviv on the International Holocaust Remembrance Day to commemorate Jews and representatives of other nationalities who were tortured, executed and murdered on the territory of Ukraine.

A memorial service and communal interfaith prayer were held near the monument of Lviv’s ghetto victims. It was attended by Yitzhak Carmel Kagan, the Deputy Ambassador of Israel in Ukraine, Oleg Vyshniakov, the Honorary Consul of the State of Israel in Western Ukraine, Andriy Sadovy, Lviv City Mayor, representatives of Jewish organizations in Lviv, the regional and city authorities and city residents.

In his speech, Mr. Vyshniakov stressed the importance of such events along with the need for each nation not only to remember the most horrible pages of its own history, but also to draw a lesson from them. “The mass murder of Jews and Jewish pogroms in Lviv during the Second World War should not be a blank page in the history. It should occupy the rightful place in the memory of future generations” Mr. Vyshniakov said.

Andriy Sadovyy, the Mayor of Lviv, also addressed the audience: “Today we commemorate those Jews who were innocently murdered only for the fact that they were Jews. It is a great tragedy for all people of good will. An imperishable memory of all innocent victims is always in our hearts.”

The guests and city residents also visited a so-called “Valley of Death” which is located on the territory of the former Yanovsky concentration camp. It was a transit camp where political prisoners were kept along with prisoners of war and a lot of Jews. The Germans liquidated the Camp in the middle of November 1943, murdering the majority of prisoners that is about 200 thousand people. Community observed a minute of silence in tribute to Jews murdered by the Nazis, lit candles and laid flowers at the monument to the victims of the concentration camp.

In his speech, Mr. Vyshniakov mentioned that 2472 individuals in Ukraine have the “Righteous” title. These are people who rescued Jews from the Nazi massacre against all the odds. The Honorary Consul emphasized that support of Ukrainian people is a topical issue, especially in current turbulent times for Ukraine. He assured that the State of Israel will assist and facilitate a friendly nation. “On this day, everyone should decide for themselves what he or she can do in order to make sure that in lives of future generations there will be no possibility of taking away someone’s life in favor of any purpose.” Mr. Vyshniakov concluded.

The Center for Urban History of West Central Europe hosted a round table on “Remembering the past for the future’s sake”. Participators of the discussion were Mr. Kagan and Mr. Vyshniakov as well as historians, journalists, students, representatives of various organizations, including the OSCE representatives from Italy. Ada Dianova, the Director of the Ukrainian Jewish Charity Foundation “Hesed-Arieh” said: “My generation was born after the tragedy of the Holocaust; however the martyrdom of our fathers and grandfathers still aches.”

Holocaust Remembrance Day came to an end in Lviv Regional Philharmonic, where to ‘Requiem’ music everyone could once again recall the terrible and bloody pages from the human history, like the Holocaust and genocide, and promise themselves to remember the past in order not to repeat the same mistakes in the future.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day in Lviv was carried out at the initiative of such organizations as Dr. A. Schwartz Holocaust International Centre, Lviv Regional Charitable Organization “Bnei Brit ‘Leopolis” named after E. Domberher and Ukrainian Jewish Charity Foundation “Hesed-Arieh” with the assistance of Oleg Vyshniakov, the Honorary Consul of Israel in Western Ukraine.