REMEMBRANCE: "TO ENSURE THAT NEVER
AGAIN WILL EVIL PREVAIL"
VATICAN CITY, MAR 23, 2000 (VIS) - At 12:30 p.m.
today, Pope John Paul II arrived at the Yad
Vashem Holocaust Memorial, a 45-acre complex situated on Har
Hazikaron, the Mount of Remembrance, where he was welcomed at the Hall
of Remembrance by Prime Minister Ehud Barak, the
director of the memorial and the two chief
rabbis of Israel.
Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes'
Remembrance Authority, was created in 1953
in order to commemorate the six million Jews who died in the
Holocaust, victims of the Nazis. This State institution is composed of
two museums, exhibition halls, outdoor monuments,
and documentation and information centers.
The archive collection comprises 55 million pages of documents,
nearly 100,000 still photographs and thousands of film and video
testimonies. The library has more than 80,000
volumes and thousands of periodicals. The
Hall of Names features "Pages of Testimony" submitted by
family members of victims: to date over three
million holocaust victims' names have been
The Hall of Remembrance, where the Pope was
welcomed this morning, is the hall where
ceremonies are held for official visitors. This is a tent-like structure
on whose floor are the names of the six death camps and some of
the concentration camps. There is also a memorial
flame in front of which there is a crypt
containing the ashes of some of the victims.
In addition to this hall, other memorial sites
include the Children's Memorial, a tribute
to the approximately one and a half million children who
died in the Holocaust; The Valley of the Communities, a monument dug
in bedrock which commemorates the over 5,000
Jewish communities which were destroyed, and
the Avenue and Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations, which
honors the non-Jews who rescued Jews during the Holocaust.
Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day,
established by the Israeli parliament in
1953, takes place on 27th Nissan, which usually occurs
at the end of April or beginning of May.
"In this place of memories," the Holy
Father told those present, "the mind
and heart and soul feel an extreme need for silence. Silence in which
to remember. Silence in which to try to make some
sense of the memories which come flooding
back. Silence because there are no words strong enough to
deplore the terrible tragedy of the Shoah. My own personal memories
are of all that happened when the Nazis
occupied Poland during the War. I remember
my Jewish friends and neighbors, some of whom perished, while others
"I have come to Yad Vashem to pay homage to
the millions of Jewish people who, stripped
of everything, especially of their human dignity, were murdered
in the Holocaust."
"We wish to remember," he underscored.
"But we wish to remember for a purpose,
namely to ensure that never again will evil prevail, as it did for
the millions of innocent victims of Nazism. How
could man have such utter contempt for man?
Because he had reached the point of contempt for God.
Only a Godless ideology could plan and carry out
the extermination of a whole people."
The Pope added that "the honour given to
the 'just gentiles' by the State of Israel
at Yad Vashem for having acted heroically to save Jews, sometimes
to the point of giving their own lives, is a
recognition that not even in the darkest
hour is every light extinguished."
"Jews and Christians share an immense
spiritual patrimony, flowing from God's
self-revelation," he continued. "Our religious teachings and
our spiritual experience demand that we
overcome evil with good. We remember, but
not with any desire for vengeance or as an incentive to hatred. For
us, to remember is to pray for peace and
"As Bishop of Rome and Successor of the
Apostle Peter, I assure the Jewish people
that the Catholic Church, motivated by the Gospel law of truth
and love and by no political consider-ations, is deeply saddened by
the hatred, acts of persecution and displays of
anti-Semitism directed against the Jews by
Christians at any time and in any place. The Church rejects
racism in any form as a denial of the image of the Creator inherent
in every human being."
"I fervently pray," Pope John Paul II
concluded, "that our sorrow for the tragedy
which the Jewish people suffered in the twentieth century will lead
to a new relationship between Christians and Jews.
Let us build a new future in which there
will be no more anti-Jewish feeling among Christians or
anti-Christian feeling among Jews, but rather the mutual respect
required of those who adore the one Creator and
Lord, and look to Abraham as our common
father in faith."