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  • April 16, 2010

MPP Mike Colle Commemorates Holocaust Memorial Day

Commemorating the memory of those who perished so we never forget

Yom Hashoah, better known in English as Holocaust Memorial Day, is observed globally by Jews and non-Jews alike. Yom Hashoah commemorates the memory of those who were murdered during the Holocaust by Nazis.

Six million innocent Jews lost their lives at the hands of Hitler's Nazi murderers during World War II, as part of a diabolical state-sponsored genocide of men, women and children of the Jewish faith.

Noted Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel is fond of saying, "to remain silent and indifferent, is the greatest sin of all", and by being here today in the Ontario Legislature, we are helping to ensure that none of us forget what happened to the Jews at the hands of the Nazi cowards, and that our children know of this horrific period in history.

In his Nobel Prize Winning book Night, Wiesel's words are infinitely better than mine in passing on the horrors of the Holocaust.

"Never shall I forget the night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke.

Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever.

Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God himself. Never."

And Wiesel has dedicated his life to ensuring that none of us forget what happened in the Holocaust.

On March 31st, here in this chamber, we honoured decorated Canadian veteran Ed Carter-Edwards, one of 168 Allied Airmen, who were incarcerated in Buchenwald, in August of 1944. Ed and his fellow airmen witnessed first hand the horrors of Buchenwald, one of many dreaded death camps Hitler built.

Ed Carter-Edwards just attended the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Buchenwald on April 9th, ensuring that the 56,545 victims who were lost at Buchenwald are not forgotten or denied.

Veterans like Ed and thousands of other witnesses, all over the world and in Canada, have dedicated their lives in telling the stories of the innocent victims of the Holocaust, so that their deaths are not in vain or forgotten.

And this Sunday past, in Earl Bales Park in Toronto, many of us joined with survivors and their families in the annual Community Holocaust Commemoration, sponsored by the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre, the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, and the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem.

The keynote speaker, Judy Weissenberg Cohen, spoke eloquently about the tragic challenges women faced in the Holocaust, as mothers, daughters, and sisters living during this horrific time.

Born in Hungary in 1928, Judy survived the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, a slave labour camp, and a forced death march. Judy has volunteered her time to educate younger generations about her experience as a survivor of the holocaust, not only from the perspective of someone of the Jewish faith, but also from the perspective of a woman.

As Holocaust survivors stood up on Sunday to read the pledge of survivors, it became evident just how many survivors live in Ontario, and contribute to the fabric of this great Province.

Holocaust survivors stood up and vowed to pass on to their children and grandchildren, the sacred memory of the six million souls lost.

Following their pledge, the young children in attendance stood up in honour of the more than 1.5 million children who perished in the Holocaust, promising to remember and to preserve their stories.

The countless names etched on the walls of the Holocaust Memorial at Earl Bales Park was a somber reminder to all of us, of the millions of lives that were lost, and of the extent of suffering they and their families have experienced. The wall is etched with the names of sisters, brothers, fathers, and mothers, slaughtered in cold blood by the Nazi killing machines.

It is because of survivors like Judy Weissenberg Cohen, Veterans like Ed Carter-Edwards, and the promise made by our children, that we can ensure that these names are not merely names etched in a wall, but that each name, each life, each story, will be remembered.

Whether it be here in the Legislature, or at community Holocaust commemoration ceremonies across the world, righteous people from every walk of life are reaffirming their dedication to the 6 million victims who were slaughtered, so that this absolutely deplorable chapter in history will not ever be forgotten, nor shall it ever happen again.

In conclusion, I would like to read the prayer 'For the Martyrs of the Shoah'.

O God, full of mercy, Who dwells on high, grant perfect rest on the wings of the Divine Presence, in the lofty levels of the holy and the pure ones, who shine like the brightness of the firmament, unto the souls of the six million ment, women and children, all holy and pure, who were killed, murdered, and slaughtered for the sanctification of God's Name, by the hands of the Nazi oppressors and those who aided them, may their names be obliterated. May their resting place be in Paradise. May the Master of mercy shelter them in the shelter of His wings for eternity; and may He bind their souls in the Bond of eternal Life. The Lord is their heritage. May they rest in peace. And let us say, Amen.

*This is a transcript of a speech MPP Colle made in the Ontario Legislature on Tuesday, April 13th, 2010. The attached is a photo of MPP Colle at the Yom Hashoah Community Holocaust Commemoration at Earl Bales Park in Toronto, on April 11th, 2010.

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