Yad Vashem, What is Israel’s Holocaust Memorial?
JERUSALEM – A long line of international dignitaries visited Yad Vashem, Israel’s official Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, and President Biden’s visit Wednesday was not his first.
As vice president in 2010, he toured the site’s Holocaust History Museum, Hall of Fame, Children’s Monument, and Memorial Hall, where he participated in a memorial service, and where eternal fire is ignited by a crypt containing the ashes of Holocaust victims, in memory of the six million Jews killed by the Nazis and their collaborators during the Second World War.
At the time, Mr. Biden emotionally told how, as a young father, he took his sons one by one at the age of 15 to Dachau, the first Nazi concentration camp. Founded in Germany in 1933, it was liberated 12 years later by the US military. Mr. Biden said he wanted his sons to understand “the possibility that humans can be so brutal.”
This time around, the president’s visit to Yad Vashem could provide a resonating reassertion of human spirit and viability: Mr Biden and his delegation are scheduled to meet with two survivors after the Holocaust, Rena Quint and Giselle Cyclowiczsurvivors of various concentration camps and after the war, immigrated to the United States.
Miss Quint, as a child during the Holocaust, and Miss Cycowicz, a young teenager, are part of a dying generation that can testify to Nazi atrocities.
After arriving there on Wednesday, Mr. Biden donned a black kippa and met with Yad Vashem’s president, Dani Dayan, a former settler leader who served as Israel’s consul general in New York.
At a memorial service, he rekindled the eternal flame. A children’s choir performed “Walking to Caesarea,” a 1942 poem by Hannah Szenes, a Hungarian Jewish resistance fighter during World War II. It was turned to music in 1945, a year after Mrs. Szenes was captured behind enemy lines and executed.
A cantor also read a Jewish prayer for the souls of Nazi victims.
Accompanying him on the visit was the president of Israel, Isaac Herzog; Prime Minister Yair Lapid, son of a Holocaust survivor; Rabbi Meir Lau, a former chief rabbi of Israel, president of Yad Vashem’s council and a survivor himself; Israel’s Defense Minister, Benny Gantz; Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken; and Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser.