By Julie Lucas, IMCOMApril 25, 2013
VICENZA, Italy- "270,000 Romanians, 275,000 disabled and 3 million Poles" were the words shown on the slideshow during the Holocaust Days of Remembrance ceremony April 18 at the chapel. The staggering numbers and statistics were created by the English as a Second Language class at Vicenza High School.
The Holocaust Days of Remembrance is an eight-day period of commemoration that coincides with Yom Ha-shoah, Hebrew for Holocaust Remembrance Day, and initiates the eight days leading up to Israeli Independence Day.
This year's theme was "Never Again: Heeding the warning signs." A video was shown reminding viewers that as early as March 1938, with the Nazis occupation of Vienna and the annexation of Austria, there were warning signs of what Adolph Hitler planned to do.
According to the video, people had nowhere to go. The United States was deep in the Depression and would not raise its immigration quotas to absorb European Jewish refugees. The Dominican Republic was the only country to raise its limits on immigrants, allowing people to leave Europe.
The video recounted that Nov 9, 1938, Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, on which Jewish stores and synagogues were despoiled and burned to the ground, was another harbinger of the nightmare to come. Immediately after, 30,000 German Jews were rounded up and sent to concentration camps. Jewish schools were closed and businesses and homes were forced to be sold at huge losses.
The video discussed the hastily organized Kindertransport, or transport of Jewish children to Great Britain in the wake of the growing Nazi threat, in which youngsters were sent abroad by their parents in the hope at least of saving their lives. Nearly 10,000 children were sent to England and survived the war as a consequence.
These warning signs of the genocide to come were all clearly visible to those who could read the signs of the times, long before the annexation of Czechoslovakia, the invasion of Poland and the beginning of World War II.
As part of the memorial event, Vicenza High School students Nicole Wilson performed three pieces on violin and Earl Denman played piano.
Honors World History 10th-graders read from a number of sources. William Tramm read from Primo Levi's "Survival in Auschwitz," Quinn Hurt read an excerpt from Elie Wiesel's "Night," Soliyah Stevens read an excerpt from "The Diary of Anne Frank," and Drake Fichthorn read Martin Neimöller's poem, "Then They Came for Me."
"We always try to involve the students in our EO observances because our events are intended to be educational and informative as well as celebratory, when possible," said U.S. Army Africa equal opportunity adviser, Master Sgt. Keith Cade. "This was a great opportunity to showcase some of the many talented youth we have in our small community with the readings, and violinist and pianist performances."
Students also lighted candles in memory of the six million Jews, among them a million and a half children, murdered by the German state and its allies across Europe between 1933 and 1945, and observed a moment of silence for all the victims of the Holocaust.