KKL-JNF Marks Holocaust Remembrance Day 2012

Monday, April 16, 2012 3:50 PM

Holocaust Remembrance Day will be marked in Israel on April 19, 2012. The central KKL-JNF event marking Yom Hashoah will be held with the Bnai Brith World Center, with the theme "My Brother's Keeper: Jewish Solidarity During the Holocaust."


Blue Box found in the ruins of the Warsaw Ghetto. Photo: Yossi Zamir
Holocaust Remembrance Day will be marked in Israel on Thursday, 27 Nisan 5772/ April 19, 2012. The theme chosen for Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day 2012 is "My Brother's Keeper: Jewish Solidarity During the Holocaust."
This week, a special delegation of the KKL-JNF Board of Directors headed by KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler left for Poland for a five day remembrance and commemoration journey. At the end of the journey, the KKL-JNF delegation will march at the head of the March of the Living, which this year will be marking KKL-JNF's 110th anniversary. Eleven thousand participants from 55 countries will be participating in the march.
The central KKL-JNF event marking Holocaust Remembrance Day will be held in Israel in collaboration with the Bnai Brith World Center. This ceremony is unique both in Israel and also worldwide, in that it is dedicated to the memory of Jews who rescued other Jews during the Holocaust. The traditional ceremony will be held in Martyrs' Forest in the Scrolls of Fire plaza. In honor of the 80th anniversary of the founding of Aliyat Hanoar (Youth Aliya), this year’s ceremony will mark the heroism of two outstanding rescuers: Recha Freier and Josef Itai.
Recha Freier formulated the concept of massive immigration of German Jewish Youth to Mandatory Palestine in 1932 after being approached by a group of Jewish youngsters dispirited by rising anti-Semitism. That very year, she arranged the immigration of an initial group of 12 students and in January 1933 she formally founded “Youth Aliya” in Berlin, which provided the framework for saving the lives of 7,000 Jewish children during the Holocaust, primarily through emigration to Mandatory Palestine. Recha continued her work under the Nazi regime, until 1940 when she was forced to cross the Austrian border to Yugoslavia with her 11 year old daughter Ma’ayan following an altercation with Adolf Eichmann.

Remembering on Holocaust Memorial Day. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive
Joseph Itai was a young “Hashomer Hatzair” leader from Yugoslavia who was summoned by Recha Freier to care for German and Austrian children who escaped to Zagreb, where she continued her rescue activities after fleeing from Germany. Recha managed to obtain 90 certificates that allowed most of the children to immigrate to Palestine before she arrived herself in 1941. Another group of 30 was left behind in Zagreb with no certificates and had to survive under the fear of Nazi occupation.  Josef Itai led the group – which eventually swelled to about 100 children and adult chaperons – through a daring series of events in Yugoslavia and Italy until successfully leading them across the border to Switzerland in October 1943. He arrived in Palestine in June 1945, where he presented the children to Recha Freier in keeping with the promise he made to her four and a half years earlier.
Mrs. Susan Caine (Freier), the eldest granddaughter of Recha Freier and Mr. Hanan Itai, son of Josef Itai (Yoshko Indig) will represent the Jewish rescuers at the ceremony. Mrs. Ester Golan, who was rescued due to Recha Freier’s activity, will represent the survivors. Also speaking will be Greek Ambassador to Israel H.E. Kyrikaos Loukakis, member of KKL-JNF Board of Directors Shlomo Vayzer, and B’nai B’rith World Center Chairman Dr. Haim V. Katz.

Lighting the memorial torch next to the Scrolls of Fire. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archives

A “Jewish Rescuers Citation” will also be conferred on a group of rescuers who operated in the underground Zionist Youth Movement in Hungary, by the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jews who Rescued Fellow Jews During the Holocaust (JRJ) and the B’nai B’rith World Center.
The event will be held at the Martyr's Forest, a joint KKL-JNF-B’nai B’rith project which memorializes the victims of the Holocaust with 6 million trees planted in the picturesque Jerusalem Mountains near Moshav Kesalon. At the pinnacle of the forest stands the “Scroll of Fire” by the renowned sculptor Nathan Rappaport, which depicts the destruction of the Jewish People in the Holocaust and their redemption in the State of Israel.
The event will commence with personal testimonies given by Holocaust survivors to classes of soldiers.
Occurrences of Jewish rescue and the instructive stories of thousands of Jews who labored to save their endangered brethren throughout Europe are yet to receive appropriate public recognition and resonance. Many who could have tried to flee preferred to stay and rescue others; some paid for it with their lives. With great heroism, Jews in every country in occupied Europe employed subterfuge, forgery, smuggling, concealment and other methods to ensure that some Jews would survive the Holocaust in Europe or succeed in escaping to a safe haven. The few rescuers who are still alive refrain until today from recounting their stories, satisfied in the knowledge that they were able to overcome the German tormentors and their collaborators.
Considering the fact that many of the rescuers were young at the time of their activity, the organizers of the ceremony view it as especially important to expose Jewish youth to the phenomena of Jewish rescue during the Holocaust as a model for Jewish solidarity and courage.

Visit Martyr's Forest - Anne Frank Memorial

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, the public is invited to visit Martyrs' Forest, particularly the very moving Anna Frank Memorial Site, which was built by KKL-JNF about a year ago on the initiative and with the support of KKL-JNF Holland.

Path to the Anne Frank Memorial Site. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archives 

KKL-JNF will be holding a special event in Martyr's Forest, where participants will Walk to Remember along the paths of the forest, which was planted in the 1950's to commemorate the 6 million Jews who perished in the Holocaust. This event is free of charge and is open to all.