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Holocaust remembrance underscores 'Never again'

'Silence is never an acceptable response,' Mayor Villaraigosa stresses at Pan Pacific Park ceremony.

May 05, 2008|Ari B. Bloomekatz | Times Staff Writer

The phrases "never again" and "we must not remain silent" are themes of Holocaust Remembrance Day, and speakers at Sunday's commemoration in Pan Pacific Park reminded listeners of those messages.

"On Yom Hashoah we come together to say 'never again.' Seventy years after Krystallnacht, we must make sure that those words are a promise," Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said.

"Silence is never an acceptable response."

Holocaust Remembrance Day, also called Yom Hashoah, commemorates the deaths of at least 6 million Jews who perished in concentration camps and massacres carried out by Nazi Germany prior to and during World War II.

The event was marked in Israel on May 1.

Speaking to a crowd of more than 1,500 huddled beneath a blue and white tent and surrounded by Israeli flags, Villaraigosa called the Holocaust "the most grisly and hateful period in the history of mankind." He said that to honor the memories of those who died, people must both remember the past and "stand up to hate whenever and wherever it casts its dark shadow."

The event at Pan Pacific Park, which has been held annually for almost 20 years, was one of several in the Southland in recent days to mark the anniversary. Last week, Gov. Schwarzenegger helped dedicate a new exhibit at the Simon Wiesenthal Center and on Tuesday, a group of more than 1,600 students from Los Angeles-area schools is scheduled to hold its own memorial at Pan Pacific Park.

In the audience Sunday were several City Council members and other dignitaries, including Holocaust survivor Avram Hershko, who won the 2004 Nobel Prize in chemistry.

"Let us imagine what would have happened if he had not survived the Holocaust," Jacob Dayan, the Israeli consul general in Los Angeles, said of Hershko.

Dayan lamented the deaths of other Jews unable to escape persecution and said he had "no doubt in my heart that the world would have been a better place with them."

The ceremony was held in the park near the Los Angeles Holocaust Monument, a memorial with six 18-foot granite columns symbolic of the crematories in the Nazi death camps. Each year on Holocaust Remembrance Day, a flame burns atop each column for 24 hours.

Jona Goldrich, chairman of the monument, told the crowd that "the entire world must never forget. The entire world must remember."

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ari.bloomekatz@latimes.com

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