‘It was cataclysmic’: Jewish communities mark Holocaust Memorial Day
Jewish communities throughout the Maritimes and around the world reflected upon one of the worst chapters in human history on Sunday.
Guido Smit’s parents struggled through a time of mass genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of Nazi Germany.
“It was cataclysmic in its magnitude and suffering in the violence done,” said Smit. “It's really incomprehensible. We’re talking about something in the order of 60 million people killed, millions of others wounded and those who did survive lost everyone they cared about.”
Smit's mother fled Germany to Holland a few weeks before the Second World War broke out, but his father played an important role as a member of a Dutch resistance group that saved 250 Jewish children.
“They were very special people. In some ways they were very ordinary. My father was a brick layer, one of my uncles was a gardener and some were teachers,” said Smit. “But in terms of their moral clarity knowing what they believed in and having the courage to live up to what they believed in, they were very unusual people.”
A memorial service was held in Sydney on Sunday. It’s part of Israel's day of commemoration of the Holocaust and is recognized in countries around the world. It is marked every spring on the 27th day of the Hebrew calendar.
“The service will consist of some prayers, keynote speaker, candle lighting in remembrance of people who died, Malcom Munroe Choir will sing, and we always end the service with Leon Dubinski's ‘We Rise Again’, said Diane Lewis, chair of the Holocaust Committee.
Lewis says as years pass, it's getting more difficult to find survivors who can share their stories. That's why it's important for the younger generation to keep the history alive.
“It's so important that those stories are remembered within a generation, or it could all disappear,” said Lewis “Then the millions and millions of people who don't have a voice will have been forgotten.”
That's why Lewis says the Jewish community is committed to sharing stories and continuing to remember those who died, and the sacrifices made.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kyle Moore.