Page last updated at 16:41 GMT, Tuesday, 21 April 2009 17:41 UK

Holocaust Remembrance Day marked


Israelis in Jerusalem mark Holocaust Memorial Day with a two-minute silence

A wail of sirens brought Israel to a standstill on Tuesday morning for a two-minute silence to remember the victims of the Holocaust.

At a ceremony, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Holocaust deniers would never be allowed to carry out another Holocaust of the Jewish people.

Six million Jews were murdered in the Nazi Holocaust during WWII.

Remembrance ceremonies were held across the world, including at the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz in Poland.

Thousands of young Jews and elderly survivors took part in the March of the Living, walking from Auschwitz to the nearby death camp at Birkenau.

In Germany, the parliament commemorated the day with an address by President Horst Koehler.

'Supreme commitment'

During the two-minute silence in Israel, pedestrians stopped in their tracks, drivers pulled over and got out of their cars and people in offices rose to stand next to their desks.

Sixty-four years after, we still have to deal with prejudice, with hate, with those that are trying to do everything they can in order to destroy the Jewish state, the state of Israel
Silvan Shalom
Israeli Vice-Prime Minister

At the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, survivors Lia and Iudit - twin sisters - lit a torch to open the remembrance day ceremony, before Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Netanyahu laid a wreath.

In the Hall of Remembrance names of the victims were recited.

Mr Netanyahu said it was the supreme commitment of the State of Israel to never again let the Jewish people perish in a Holocaust.

An official ceremony was also held in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset.

Critical voices

The Holocaust Remembrance Day is also being marked in communities all over Israel with prayers and musical performances.

A participant carries an Israeli flag during a march at Auschwitz
Some 7,000 people took part in the March of the Living at Auschwitz

An estimated 250,000 Holocaust survivors are living in Israel, many below the poverty line.

Critics have accused the state of not doing enough to help them.

In Poland, about 7,000 people walked the two miles from Auschwitz to Birkenau. Among the participants was Israeli Vice-Prime Minister Silvan Shalom.

Mr Shalom said that 64 years after the Holocaust "we still have to deal with prejudice, with hate, with those that are trying to do everything they can in order to destroy the Jewish state, the State of Israel."

Mr Shalom also referred to the strong attacks on Israel by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at a UN conference in Switzerland.

"What we faced yesterday in Geneva is shameful. Shameful to those countries that have decided to back Iran, to Switzerland that have decided to host and to have the Iranian president.

"Unfortunately it was a very strong, a very wrong message to the whole world, that a man like Ahmadinejad can hold such kind of opinions but in the same time to be accepted by the president of Switzerland".

The biggest event to mark the day in the US will take place in Washington at the Holocaust Memorial Museum, which describes the day as a reminder to Americans "of what can happen to civilized people when bigotry, hatred and indifference reign".

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