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2008 International Day of commemoration in memory
of the victims of the Holocaust

Statements

Statement by Ambassador Daniel Gillerman Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations

Thank you very much, Mr. Under-Secretary-General.

Minister Attias,
Mr. President,
Survivors,
Fellow colleagues, Ambassadors,

Thank you. Thank you so much for sharing this momentous occasion with us. I am always immensely proud to represent Israel in this building. Each and every day when I walk the halls and corridors of the United Nations, be it at the Security Council or the at the General Assembly, I walk with my head held up high knowing what a wonderful country and a wonderful people I represent.

But tonight, tonight, I am also very proud to be a member of the United Nations family, because the United Nations is doing something which is invaluable. Over two years ago, it did adopt a resolution which made January 27 forever after international Holocaust Remembrance Day. But unlike many other resolutions, this one lives on. The United Nations teaches the lessons of the Holocaust. The United Nations has the outreach programme which reaches out all over the world. And today the United Nations even together with Israel launched a joint stamp, which is called “Remembrance and Beyond”, a stamp which will be a small ambassador at the top of each envelope going all around the world.

But tonight is more than just about the launching of a stamp or the continuation of a living resolution. And tonight is more than just about remembrance. Tonight is about victory. It is about the victory of good over evil, it is a victory of culture over ignorance. It is a victory of the spirit.

And in that spirit, I would like the Holocaust survivors or descendants of survivors in the audience to rise so that they can be recognized.

Thank you.

I would now like to demonstrate the victory we are celebrating tonight and commemorating tonight. All those years ago in the 30s and 40s, those evil forces of darkness tried to destroy not just a people, and not just a religion, but a culture as well. They destroyed intellectuals, they destroyed scientists, they destroyed musicians. Each one of us asks himself each and every day, how many more noble prizes would there be if these people were alive? How many more medical inventions would there be if these people had survived? We also ask ourselves, how many more symphony orchestras would there be if they were with us today?

Well, the orchestra symphony you have on this stage today is a direct answer to that. It was established by Holocaust survivors, primarily by Yoselle Buchmann, who is in the audience and with whom this evening would not be possible. It includes Israeli youngsters who come from nearly 20 different countries, among them also second and third generation descendents from Holocaust survivors, and I would like those in the orchestra who are descendents of Holocaust survivors to rise please.

This is our answer. This is our victory. The music continues and the spirit continues. And instead of talking about it, I want to demonstrate it to you with a very small personal story. We have in the audience today a gentleman by the name of Walter Loerbs. He was in Dachau, he survived Dachau, he came to the United States, and towards the end of the war went back to Europe with the Allied forces. His wife Erselle, hid throughout the war in a small apartment, on the same street, just next door, to where Anna Frank was living. I would like those two people to come up to the stage now.

Well, that’s not the end of the story, because this is about remembrance. And we are talking beyond. The Loerbs eventually also had children, and a lovely granddaughter named Julia, who eventually five years ago made aliyah, went to Israel, and is here today too. But not in the audience. She is a viola player with the orchestra you are going to listen to tonight, and I would like Julia to join her grandparents right now.

This, my friends, is victory. And I promise you from this podium, that just as I am sure that if the State of Israel had existed all those years ago there would have been no Holocaust, now that there is a Israel, and there always will forever be an Israel, there never will be one again.