Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Celebrating the End of World War II

World War II veterans take their seats at the Memorial to the Jewish
Soldiers and Partisans at Yad Vashem
On Thursday, May 9, 2013 a ceremony marking the 68th anniversary of the Allied victory over Nazi Germany in World War II (VE Day) took place at the Memorial to the Jewish Soldiers and Partisans at Yad Vashem in the presence of Jewish World War II veterans and ex-servicemen, their families, Israeli government officials and foreign diplomatic representatives of the Allied countries. The event was organized with the participation of the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and a number of partisan and veteran groups with speakers including the Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver, Dr. Bella Gutterman the Director of the International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem and Avraham Greenzeid, Chairman of the Veterans Union of World War II Fighters Against Nazism. Unlike the understandable solemn nature of virtually all of the other ceremonies and events which are hosted by Yad Vashem throughout the year (with the exception of those honoring the Righteous Among the Nations), this was mostly a joyous and celebratory occasion with commemorative speeches and upbeat musical performances. 
Veterans from the Former Soviet Union speak before the ceremony
The Israeli Police Orchestra plays a number of patriotic songs from the
Allies during World War II
Conducted by Inspector Eitan Sobol, the Israeli Police Orchestra played many of the well-known patriotic songs from that era including several from the Soviet Union, Great Britain, the United States as well as a few sung by Jewish fighters from the Yishuv and Jewish partisans in Europe. Many of those in attendance, especially the veterans and those who lived through that difficult period, joined their voices in a nostalgic melody, singing a familiar song or two that still seemed to reflect the light of hope and unyielding desire to better the world by those who had the courage to raise their arms in defiance amidst a powerful and growing darkness. Many of these same veterans, especially those from the Former Soviet Union, proudly donned old uniforms, medals or berets serving as a visual reminder of the sacrifice by over 1.5 million Jews who left their families to serve and fight in the Allied forces during World War II and who bravely resisted and defeated the injustice and tyranny which Nazi Germany brought to the world during one of the most evil episodes in human history.  
The evening concludes with a wreath-laying ceremony honoring the
Jewish fighters who fell in battle during World War II
All photos courtesy of Hannah Kaye. 

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