Dozens of foreign ambassadors to Israel in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day met with survivors, who recalled the harrowing stories of living through the genocide.
Wednesday's meeting was organized by the Foreign Affairs Ministry, which invited two Holocaust survivors - Betty Appel and Sarah Goodman - to share their stories with the diplomats.
Appel was born in April 1935 to parents of Polish descent in Valence, France, where the family lived until September 1942. It was then that the French police and the Gestapo picked up her mother and two-year-old brother Michel, before eventually sending them to the Auschwitz deaths camp, where they were murdered.
Betty, her father and 5-year-old brother Jacques, then managed to secretly cross the demarcation line to the south of France. Betty and her brother were then entrusted with a non-Jewish family in a small village in Savoie, France, where they stayed until the end of the war. Betty eventually made aliyah to Israel alone in 1964.
"I think it's essential that we talk about what happened to us and tell everything, because we are the last [of living survivors],” said Betty. “After we are gone from this world, who will be left to testify about what we saw?"
Goodman also shared her story, telling the ambassadors about being on the run for the duration of World War II. "In 1939, immediately after Kristallnacht and my father's imprisonment, at the age of two and a half, I was sent with my six-year-old sister and a foreign woman by train to Belgium."
From that point on, Sarah and her family spent the rest of the war as refugees, constantly on the run. Moving periodically between countries just for a chance to survive.
At the end of the meeting, many ambassadors remained in the auditorium to talk with the survivors. Austrian Ambassador to Israel Hannah Liko, later tweeted a thank you note to Betty for sharing her story.
“Grateful for Betty’s willingness to tell her story. How a French couple hid her on their farm and how difficult it is was to discover her family’s fate. It is our task to keep the memory alive,” tweeted Liko.
EU Ambassador to Israel Emanuele Giaufret, together with the ambassadors of 26 EU member states, also issued a special announcement in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“The Delegation of the European Union to the State of Israel, together with the 26 Embassies of EU Member States present in Israel, remember today with a sense of deep responsibility the six million Jews brutally killed on European soil in the Holocaust, together with other victims of Nazism during the darkest hours of humankind,” said the statement.
“We join Israelis and Jews all over the world in mourning the Jewish men, women and children murdered by the Nazis and their helpers. We pay tribute to those who survived the unthinkable horrors of the Holocaust and rebuilt their lives in Israel, Europe and across the world. It is our collective duty to make sure that the horrors of the Holocaust are never forgotten.”
The European Commission said it has tripled the budget for commemorating Holocaust as well as Holocaust education and research for 2022. The commission added that in the coming year it will present for the first time the EU’s comprehensive strategy for fighting anti-Semitism and cultivating Jewish life in Europe.