Jerusalem, 3 May 2000
#21 PM BARAK’S SPEECH CONCLUDING HOLOCAUST DAY
(Communicated by the Defense Minister’s Media Advisor)
Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak yesterday evening
(Tuesday) 2.5.2000 spoke at Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetta’ot, concluding
Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day. Following is the text
of the speech:
The enlightened world celebrates VE Day once each year, on 8-9 May.
Here, at Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetta’ot, where the key official ceremony
marking Holocaust Day is held, this victory is celebrated daily. From
this perspective, this kibbutz is the best proof of the great Jewish
victory over the Nazi attempt to exterminate the Jewish people out of
memory and existence.
The founders of Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetta’ot were all Holocaust survivors,
the remnants of those who rebelled in the Warsaw Ghetto, partisans who
fought the Nazis in the forests of Poland and Russia, prisoners in the
concentration camps and the fighters of the Vilna Ghetto. The
cornerstone ceremony of the kibbutz was held in April 1949 –
deliberately – on the 6th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
An integral part of the new kibbutz was to establish – on the day it was
founded – a museum to document the Holocaust of European Jewry and the
battles of the soldiers. On that same day, the first Holocaust
Remembrance Day was held, a ceremony that has become a key fixture on
the Israeli calendar.
The living sprit of the founders who established Kibbutz Lohamei
Hagetta’ot was Zvia Lubatkin, who participated in the two Warsaw Ghetto
uprisings. In Israel, Zvia married Yitzhak – Antek – Zuckerman, a
legendary figure in his own right, who initiated the Warsaw Ghetto
uprising and the Jewish Fighters Organization that planned the revolt,
and who lead the organization after the death of Mordechai Aneilewicz.
From its outset, Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetta’ot has striven to fulfill two
missions that together are its raison d’etre. On one hand to be a farm
where people live and love, marry and have children, build homes and
plant trees – a place that is built daily with its face tot he future.
And on the other hand, a farm whose many educational activities seek to
“to deepen awareness of the Holocaust and the revolts by the Jewish
people in Israel and the world, and to be a monument to the Diaspora
that was destroyed.”
Antek was one of the founders and designers of the Yitzhak Katznelson
Beit Lohamei Hagetta’ot. Zvia worked in the hen-house, the kitchens,
administration, serving several times as Kibbutz secretary. They are
both no longer with us, but they had children and their children had
children of their own, all of whom reside here, at Kibbutz Lohamei
Hagetta’ot. They lead the completely ordinary lives of daily routine
and blessings of people on their own land. This normalcy of their and
their colleagues’ lives and is the very essence of the victory of the
prisoners of the camps, the Holocaust survivors, the ghetto fighters,
the victory over the Nazi extermination machine that could not defeat
The people of Israel live.
Yes, the people of Israeli live.
They won a great victory, but we must rest on the laurels of that
victory. It is a conditional victory – the condition is the continued
existence of the vow of Abraham Shlonsky:
“For my eyes that have seen the bereavement
And burdened with the cries of my bowed heart
I vow to remember all
To remember and not forget anything.”
The war of the ghetto fighters was never intended to defeat Nazi
Germany. It may have been hopeless, but it was never pointless. It was
intended to prove – and indeed did prove to the Germans, and even more
so to the Jews themselves – that when the Jew has a weapon in his hands,
he knows how to fight for his life.
This is the lesson the ghetto fighters have taught us: Never again to be
caught defenseless, never again be weak, to be trampled upon, dependant
on the goodwill and mercy of others.
In recent years, instances of Holocaust denial have multiplied. But, so
too have the instances of revulsion against them. The unique
international conference held early this year in Stockholm, which I was
honored to attend, turned into a global demonstration condemning the
repellant phenomenon called Holocaust denial. The conference reiterated
the fundamental lesson of Hitler’s Germany: The lesson is that
enlightened society, society that respects human dignity in and of
itself including the stranger and those who are different, is not
something to be taken for granted, but something to protect and
determinedly fight for.
The embarrassing case of Austria, where Jorg Haider’s neo-nazi party has
been made a regular member of the government coalition – despite the
protests of the international community – proves how much this lesson is
Too many were silent when the Nazis raised their heads for the first
time. The State of Israel will not let it happen again without an
Precisely today, precisely here at Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetta’ot I call to
the leaders of the enlightened world to uproot the tree of racism
wherever we see its sprouts; to cut down every deviant blade of
anti-Semitism before it grows to monstrous proportions; to fight –
together and with determination – against every appearance of xenophobia
and to exterminate this dangerous virus.
We will not let anything or anybody endanger the full and complete moral
victory of the ghetto fighters and Holocaust survivors, the survivors of
the extermination camps, who have decreed to us by their exemplary lives
the double mission: To guarantee the construction, prosperity, security
and peace of the State of Israel, the state of the Jewish people – and
to concurrently guarantee to deepen the awareness of the Holocaust and
disseminate its lessons.
Here in Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetta’ot, we commit ourselves to fulfill this
mission – in both its parts – in full and for eternity.
From: Israel Government Press Office <[email protected]
Subject: PM Holocaust Day speech