Speakers underscore memory over history at Holocaust ceremony

Speakers underscore memory over history at Holocaust ceremony

About 80 people gathered Tuesday inside City Hall to remember victims of the Holocaust after a drizzly day relocated the ceremony from Market Square.

As survivors of the genocide that killed more than six million Jews, ethnic Poles, Sinti and Roma, homosexuals and other minorities dwindle in numbers, the message at the 23rd annual ceremony was to learn from history. 

History provides us with perspective, a way to live more appropriately in the present and to be able to plan for a better future, said Alexandria-Arlington Chabad Lubavitch founder Rabbi Mordechai Newman, whose parents survived the Holocaust though his great grandparents died. But the price of neglecting to remember is steep.

Charlene Schiff, an Alexandrian and survivor who has participated in the ceremony since its inception, recalled when she was approached by a supposed sympathizer while hiding from the Nazis in the wilderness. Kasia said she would meet Schiff the next day to help her. 

After Schiff decided not to return to their meeting place, she learned that her supposed friend planned to betray her and turn her in for being a young Jewish girl on the run.

It was her instinct and distrust, she said, that saved her.

Mayor Bill Euille and other elected officials were also present. 

We have this every year because it is vital that we, as a city, never ever forget the atrocities that occurred during the dark time in our history, Euille said before lighting the candelabrum with Newman and other elected officials.

Rev. Robert Malm of Grace Episcopal Church also offered words about the importance of remembering.

On this day, and on this occasion, we proclaim two great truths: First, those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it, Malm said. And second, all that it takes for evil to triumph is for good men and women to do nothing.