Holocaust Remembrance Day (Illustration: Auschwitz)
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Remembering the fallen
Photo: Jurgen Stroop, 1943

B'nai B'rith, JNF Holocaust ceremony marks rescuers' heroism

Joint Holocaust Remembrance Day commemoration event to honor Recha Freier and Josef Itai, two leading figures in Youth Aliya movement

The B'nai B'rith World Center in Jerusalem and the Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) are set to hold a joint Holocaust commemoration ceremony on April 19, Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoa).


Every year the ceremony is dedicated to commemorating the heroism of Jews who rescued fellow Jews during the years of torment in Europe and by doing so resisted the Nazi murder machine.


Some 200 Border Patrol Cadets – who will provide an honor guard - and 200 high school students will participate together with Jewish rescuers and survivors. The ceremony will take place at the Martyr’s Forest “Scroll of Fire” Plaza, at 10 am on Thursday.


To mark the 80th anniversary of the founding of “Aliyat Hanoar” (Youth Aliya) this year’s ceremony will mark the heroism of two outstanding rescuers: Recha Freier and Josef Itai.


Recha Freier formulated the concept of massive immigration of German Jewish Youth to what was at the time, Palestine under the British mandate in 1932, after she was approached by a group of Jewish youngsters dispirited by rising anti-Semitism.


That year she arranged the immigration of an initial group of 12 students and in January 1933 she formally founded “Youth Aliya” in Berlin which provided the framework for saving the lives of 7,000 Jewish children during the Holocaust principally through emigration to the then Palestine.


Recha continued her work under the Nazi regime, until 1940 when she was forced to cross the Austrian border to Yugoslavia with her 11 year old daughter Ma’ayan following an altercation with Adolf Eichmann.


Joseph Itai was a young “Hashomer Hatzair” leader from Yugoslavia who was summoned by Recha Freier to care for German and Austrian children who escaped to Zagreb, where she continued her rescue activities after fleeing from Germany.


Fulfilled promise

Recha managed to obtain 90 certificates that allowed most of the children to immigrate to Palestine before she arrived herself in 1941. Another group of 30 was left behind in Zagreb with no certificates and had to survive under the fear of Nazi occupation.


Josef Itai led the group – which eventually swelled to about 100 children and adult chaperons – through a daring series of events in Yugoslavia and Italy until successfully leading them across the border to Switzerland in October 1943. He arrived in Palestine in June 1945 where he presented the children to Recha Freier in keeping with the promise he made to her four and a half years earlier.


Mrs. Susan Caine (Freier), the eldest granddaughter of Recha Freier and Mr. Hanan Itai, son of Josef Itai (Yoshko Indig) will represent the Jewish rescuers at the ceremony. Mrs. Ester Golan, who was rescued due to Recha Freier’s activity, will represent the survivors.


A “Jewish Rescuers Citation” will also be conferred at the event on a group of rescuers who operated in the underground Zionist Youth Movement in Hungary by the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jews who Rescued Fellow Jews During the Holocaust (JRJ) and the B’nai B’rith World Center.


The event will be held at the Martyr's Forest – a joint KKL-JNF-B’nai B’rith project which memorializes the victims of the Holocaust in 6 million trees planted in the picturesque Jerusalem Mountains near Moshav Kesalon.



פרסום ראשון: 04.18.12, 17:28
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