YORKTOWN, Va. (NNS) -- During the Holocaust Remembrance Day program aboard Naval Weapons Station (WPNSTA) Yorktown, Sailors lit six candles on April 15 to commemorate the six million Jews killed during the genocide known today as the Holocaust. The annual program is held on Yom Hashoah, which marks the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising in 1942.
"Today is a somber day of remembrance, set apart to memorialize the horrific suffering and genocide against Your chosen people and the many others who, by their dissent, marked their demise as well," said Lt. Jim Rutan, WPNSTA Yorktown Command Chaplain. "If justice can even be served for such crimes against all humanity, we asked that You will allow both the living and the dead to witness a measure of it in our time."
The Holocaust was the mass murder of approximately six million Jews during World War II, a program of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi Germany, led by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party, throughout the German Reich and German-occupied territories. Of the nine million Jews who had resided in Europe before the Holocaust, approximately two-thirds were killed. A network of over 40,000 facilities in Germany and German-occupied territories were used to concentrate, hold, and kill Jews and other victims.
"Seventy years ago, one of the greatest horrors of humanity ended in Europe," said Cmdr. Marc Herwitz, executive officer for Naval Ophthalmic Support and Training Activity (NOSTRA). "Over 20 million civilians were killed by the Nazis and their collaborators. Of those who perished, six million men, women and children were systematically exterminated because of their Jewish ethnicity."
"Amongst those who died, were some of the greatest of that generation," he continued. "They were masters in humanities, music, medicine, visual arts, sports, and mathematics. There were others who perished, non-Jews who stood against Nazi-Germany and ultimately paid for their actions with their lives."
A somber moment came when Sailors lit six candles, one-by-one, as Herwitz recited a "El Malei Rachamim", in Hebrew then in English, which is a prayer in remembrance of the six million who died in the Holocaust.
As the last candle was lit, the words of Margit Meissner, a Holocaust survivor, echoed through the chapel as promise to all that lost their lives. She said, "The important thing is that one should not become indifferent to the suffering of others, that one should not stand by and just raise one's hands and say, 'There's nothing I can do, I'm just one person,' because I think what every one of us does matters."
For more news from Naval Weapons Station Yorktown, visit www.navy.mil/local/nwsyorktown/.