Holocaust Memorial Day | Pope Benedict XVI, Holocaust Memorial Day, Yad Vashem

Yad Vashem monument to Janusz Korczak



When Pope Benedict XVI visited the Holocaust Memorial of Yad Vashem in Jerusalem on 11 May, 2009 he said:

‘I have come to stand in silence before this monument, erected to honour the memory of the millions of Jews killed in the horrific tragedy of the Shoah. They lost their lives, but they will never lose their names: these are indelibly etched in the hearts of their loved ones, their surviving fellow prisoners, and all those determined never to allow such an atrocity to disgrace mankind again. Most of all, their names are forever fixed in the memory of Almighty God.

Established in 1953, as the world centre for documentation, research, education and commemoration of the Holocaust Yad Vashem and its partners has collected and recorded the names and biographical details of two thirds of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis. Two million more still remain unidentified.

As the Pope quoted at the beginning of his visit to Yad Vashem, a passage from the Book of the prophet Isaiah furnishes two simple words which solemnly express the significance of the place itself: “vad” – which means memorial, and “shem” which means name…

“I will give in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name … I will give them an everlasting name which shall not be cut off” .

Pope Benedict said: “One can weave an insidious web of lies to convince others that certain groups are undeserving of respect, yet, try as one might, one can never take away the name of a fellow human being.

“May the names of these victims never perish! May their suffering never be denied, belittled or forgotten! And may all people of goodwill remain vigilant in rooting out from the heart of man anything that could lead to tragedies such as this!”

Pope Benedict said that the Catholic Church feels deep compassion for the victims remembered here. Similarly, he said, ” she draws close to all those who today are subjected to persecution on account of race, colour, condition of life or religion – their sufferings are hers, and hers is their hope for justice.” And he reaffirmed that he is committed to pray and work tirelessly to ensure that hatred will never reign in the hearts of men again.

Pope Benedict said: “Gazing upon the faces reflected in the pool that lies in stillness within this memorial, one cannot help but recall how each of them bears a name. I can only imagine the joyful expectation of their parents as they anxiously awaited the birth of their children. What name shall we give this child? What is to become of him or her? Who could have imagined that they would be condemned to such a deplorable fate!”

“Their cry still echoes in our hearts.

“My dear friends, I am deeply grateful to God and to you for the opportunity to stand here in silence: a silence to remember, a silence to pray, a silence to hope.”

For more information on Yad Vashem and Holocaust Memorial Day see: http://www1.yadvashem.org/yv/en/remembrance/international/