Holocaust survivors honored by the Israeli President Issac Herzog and the first lady Michal Herzog, International March of the Living Chair Dr. Shmuel Rosenman and Wendy Moskowitz (Yossi Zeliger)
International Holocaust Memorial Day
President Herzog hosts March of the Living Representatives and Kindertransport survivors
- Ceremony included survivors smuggled as children out of Nazi Germany to Britain after the Kristallnacht Pogrom, and later who moved to live in Israel.
- Among the participating Kindertransport survivors was an elderly resident of Kibbutz Zikim, who was once again displaced from her home, following the Hamas attack on October 7: “I will not be a refugee in my country – I want to return to Kibbutz Zikim”, she said.
President Isaac Herzog hosted a special event ahead of International Holocaust Memorial Day, at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.
The event, held in partnership with International March of the Living, brought together survivors of the Holocaust including those who were saved as part of the Kindertransport operation, which was launched 85 years ago following the Kristallnacht Pogrom of 1938.
The event, which had been scheduled to take place to mark the anniversary of Kristallnacht in November but was postponed following the Hamas attack of October 7, was held with the participation of ten Kindertransport survivors.
WHAT HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE RECEPTION
At the conclusion of the event, which was also attended by Germany’s Ambassador to Israel, Steffen Seibert, Present Herzog introduced the Foreign Minister of Holland Hanke Bruins Slot to some of the Kindertransport survivors, who spoke of their journey which took them through Holland on the way to the United Kingdom.
One of the survivors attending with her family, Mirjam Szpiro, was rescued from Nazi Germany in the Kindertransport operation in 1938. In recent weeks, she was once again evacuated from her home – this time in Kibbutz Zikim on the Gaza border, after the community came under attack by Hamas attack on October 7.
Dr. Shmuel Rosenman, President Isaac Herzog, Mirjam Szpiro and Michal Herzog (Yossi Zeliger)
Mirjam said at the event: “We had been told we had to evacuate and suddenly I had déjà vu. I was standing there, an 88-year-old woman outside her home, and I suddenly remembered the three-year-old girl I was. I didn’t remember these things before, the emotions, but suddenly I was back there. And this is the second time I leave my house.”
She added, “I hope we can return soon. The house was not damaged, and even the tree I planted in the yard two weeks before the war survived.” Mirjam has since been housed in a hotel with other displaced Israelis from her community.
The Holocaust survivors, the children of the Kindertransport who participated in the event, were deeply moved by the welcome by the President and First Lady, and expressed their appreciation to them and the International March of the Living for helping tell their story, and promoting awareness and understanding of the lessons of the past. The survivors who participated in the event are Mirjam Szpiro, Aliza Tenenbaum, Tova Gorfine, Henry Foner, Walter Bingham, Prof. Daniel Reis, Paul Alexander, Frieda Schalkowski, George Shefi, the son of the deceased Ruth Davis, Barry Davis.
Kristallnacht, or the November Pogrom, that took place on November 9, 1938, is considered as the culmination of growing anti-Jewish sentiment in Nazi Germany. It was a decisive moment in the understanding that the lives of the Jews were no longer safe in Europe. Following the pogrom, the Kindertransport Operation to save Jewish children from Germany, Austria and the occupied territories was launched, and thanks to the organization of the Jewish community in Great Britain, 10,000 children left by train from Germany to the Netherlands and from there to England during the period from December 1938 until the outbreak of World War II. The children were sent to safety alone, without their parents, many of whom were murdered in the Holocaust.
As part of the organization’s work to educate and commemorate the Holocaust, in October, International March of the Living travelled with three survivors of the Kindertransport Operation to retrace their journey to safety. They travelled by train from Germany to the Netherlands, and from there to Britain by boat. Once they arrived in the UK at Harwich, they travelled to London by train, arriving in Liverpool station. They were welcomed in Hyde Park by Britain’s Chief Rabbi Mirvis and Jewish children from the Immanuel College School for a special memorial ceremony.
The journey – which took place in the immediate aftermath of the atrocities of October 7 – was filmed for a special documentary which was also screened during the event at the President’s Residence. The film was produced by International March of the Living, with the support of the Moskowitz family – in memory of Holocaust survivor Henry Moskowitz Z”L and in honor of his wife Rose Moskowitz, and in collaboration with the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum, and with the support of ELAL and Leonardo Hotels.
WATCH THE FULL FILM
The survivors who made the journey were: Walter Bingham (100), George Shefi (92), and Paul Alexander (88). “The news and the horrific sights from Israel accompanied us all throughout the journey. We never dreamed that in our lifetime we would see such a terrible pogrom against Jews and more in the Land of Israel” said the three.
President Isaac Herzog: “This is a truly moving event. It is moving to see survivors after 85 years, to hear the personal stories of each and every one of you, and the Zionist story of each and every one of you, but it is especially moving because of the period in which we find ourselves. International Holocaust Memorial Day is not only about remembering the past, it is about our shared responsibility to the present and the future. We have with us survivors of the Holocaust, those who were forced from their homes and taken away from the families because of the Nazis – and to our great sorrow, were witness to the horrors of October 7, and were once again, displaced from their homes. This is day, is about educating the whole world about the dangers of hatred and antisemitism in particular. We have seen where this can lead – and on October 7, we got a terrible and painful reminder.”
The President added, “The generation of the Holocaust, those who saw with their own eyes the horrors of Nazism, we owe you a debt of gratitude for your resilience and hope. We are here to say clearly, to you, dear children of the Kindertransport, we will never forget your heroism. We will never forget your bravery and resilience, and how you rebuilt your lives, and helped build the State of Israel. May the memory of the six million of our sisters and brothers be eternally etched on all our hearts.”
Dr. Shmuel Rosenman, Chairman of the International March of the Living: “We set out to document this journey which came into being because of the worst anti-Jewish pogrom that the Jews of Europe had known in the years leading to the Holocaust, Kristallnacht. And as we embarked, it was in the hours after the terrible pogrom of October 7 which took place in Israel. Shocked by the stories of the survivors about what they experienced 85 years ago, and horrified by the abhorrent stories from Israel, we were reminded that the hatred of the Jews has no expiration date. It changes its form. But its motivation is the same – the annihilation of the Jewish people”.
Mark Moskowitz, a member of the International March of the Living board: “The Moskowitz family is honored to take part in bringing this critically important project to life — documenting the testimonies of three Kindertransport survivors as they retrace their journeys from oppression to freedom. In the wake of October 7th and the subsequent unleashing of rabid worldwide antisemitism, the work of March of the Living in teaching the lessons of the Holocaust by facilitating Survivors to guide younger generations through their experiences, is more important than ever. The dedication in honor of Henry and Rose Moskowitz is particularly fitting; much like the survivors featured in this documentary, they were able to find hope amidst moments of immense despair in the Shoah and after the war, see a future of optimism and rebuilding for the Jewish people.”
Journey of Hope: Retracing the Kindertransport after 85 Years will air on i24 News Saturday, January 27th 11:00 AM Israel time (4:00 AM EST) 8:30 PM Israel time (1:30 PM EST) Sunday January 28th 4:00AM Israel time (9 PM EST on 27th)
FROM THE NEWS
- British Holocaust survivor who also lived through Hamas’ attack on Israel reveals why Palestinian terror group’s ambush was WORSE than the Nazi regime’s – on Memorial Day of the Auschwitz concentration camp’s liberation (Dailymail)
- Israel’s president hosts Kindertransport survivors on 85th anniversary of rescue operation (JNS)
- 85 years later, president hosts Kindertransport survivors, draws link to October 7 (Times of Israel)
- לכל מלחמה התינוק שלה: “הייתי בן שנה וקצת כשנפרדתי מאימא, היא ידעה שלא תראה אותי שוב” (N12/Mako)
- יום השואה הבינלאומי: אותות הוקרה לשורדי שואה שניצלו במשלוחי הילדים ״הקינדרטרנספורט״ לפני 85 שנה בהם שורדת שניצלה מהטבח ב-7 לאוקטובר (Ynet)