By Pia Hagenbach
Today at noon I found myself rushing to the Yom HaShoah ceremony at Tel Aviv university, where I intern in a research lab. When I finally arrived, I was surprised to see how many people made it. And while I was standing there amongst all the people listening to poems, songs and speeches of historians and students, I kept thinking about the way the Holocaust is remembered in Germany, where I am from.
There the commemoration looks different. On the 27th of January, the date of the liberation of Auschwitz, as well as the 9th of November, the date of the Reichsprogromnacht, there usually is a speech in the parliament held by a German Politician, sometimes in combination with a Holocaust survivor or historian.
The main commemoration is done by the individual Jewish communities of the cities in a separate ceremony, which is not always open to the public and can be more religious. We do not have ceremonies at school or university, and back in the day when I used to go to school, and I went to a public school, I sometimes had the feeling that I was the only one who cared.
This is probably different from school to school and also depends on the teacher, but that was what I felt back then. And if I compare it to the feeling I had here in Israel today when the siren went on at 10 am when I was sitting on the bus to work, when I went to the ceremony at noon, standing still with the others and commemorating all those people we lost together and especially yesterday evening, when I heard the breathtaking story of Thomas Geve and saw the pictures he painted right after his liberation from Buchenwald, I felt that we were united through the fact that we cared. And this makes this experience special.
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