Jewish communities mark Holocaust Remembrance Day

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Holocaust survivors from Austria, Germany, and Poland who are now living in the New York area sat with school children Thursday to discuss their experiences on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

In Poland, Israel President Reuven Rivlin and Poland President Andrzej Duda lit candles, bowed their heads and pressed their hands on the Death Wall, a site at Auschwitz where inmates, chiefly Polish resistance fighters, were executed by Nazi German forces during World War II.

They then led thousands, including many young Jews from around the world, in the March of the Living, a remembrance event that takes place each year on Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day.

"Our common presence here shows the world: never again anti-Semitism, never again genocide, never again Holocaust," Duda said during a joint news conference before the march.

In Israel, a two minute moment of silence was observed, with sirens wailing across the country to remember the 6 million killed. The somber day is also marked by ceremonies and memorials at schools and community centers. Restaurants and cafes in the ordinarily bustling streets of Tel Aviv shutter, and TV and radio stations play Holocaust-themed programs.

Some believe that this holiday is more important than ever.

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, a group that seeks to provide "justice to victims of the Holocaust" released a report claiming that 45 percent of Americans are unable to name any concentration camps that were run by the Nazis in Europe. It also says that nearly one-third of Americans believe that 2 million or fewer Jews died in the Holocaust.

Holocaust Remembrance Day is also known as Yom HaShoah and corresponds with the 27th day of Nissan on the Jewish calendar. It falls in April or May.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day is observed on January 27 and commemorates the liberation of Auschwitz by the Soviet army.

The AP contributed to this reporting.
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