"In the years that went by the pain and shock did not diminish, but the founding of a national home for the people of Israel only a few years after these atrocities had taken place was a great and unique accomplishment in history," he said during the ceremony, which concluded the national Holocaust Remembrance Day events.
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Addressing his personal history, Ya'alon shared with the audience his mother's Holocaust narrative, noting she had joined the partisans when she was 18, "and after the war found herself struggling alone with hardship en route to Israel.
"I can't say for sure what she went through during those years of constantly running away, but I know for certain that she was always confident that a state that defends its citizens will be founded – a state that will pursue peace, but at the same time fight back in the face of any threat," the defense minister said.
Ceremony in Kibbutz Yad Mordechai (Photo: Eliad Levy)
Across the country, at the ceremony in Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetaot, Education Minister Shai Piron referred to the kibbutz hosting the ceremony, saying "Part of my educational worldview was formed here, when I was an educator in the Beit Shean Valley and arrived at the Lohamei HaGeta'ot Museum."
Piron told the audience of the hours he spent at the museum archives, searching for documents and testimonies that will give him information about "my greatest educator – Janusz Korczak. He taught me that you can't avoid life.
"Every year, I would find myself flying with students to Poland, sit with them on the ground and teach them the man's doctrine."
Ceremony in Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetaot (Photo: Avishag Shaar-Yashuv)
Earlier Monday, some 11,000 people – including Holocaust survivors, teens and IDF soldiers – took part in Poland's "March of the Living." The march, marked annually for the past 25 years, traditionally starts from the Auschwitz main gate inscribed "Arbeit Macht Frei" and ends at the Birkenau memorial.
Maor Buchnik contributed to this report
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