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Address by Prime Minister Rabin at Auschwitz

(April 20, 1993)

The culmination of Mr. Rabin's official visit to Poland was a memorial meeting at the site of the Auschwitz death camp. Speaking to thousands of young Jews from Israel and other countries, who had come to Poland to participate in the "March of the Living, " the Israeli Prime minister said:

Every handful of soil in this accursed place in drenched in the blood of the murdered. Every cabin, so silent today in this terrible place, has heard the screams of the tortured. Every wall in this place enclosed the emaciated bodies of our brothers in its thorns, and the wind will forever carry the smoke of the crematoria.

Faced with hunger, with loneliness, with humiliation, cold and torture - who here, could have acted in any other way? They did not go as lambs to the slaughter. A people forlorn, a people deserted, a lonely people, found its death in this very place.

Fifty years later, and still their cries sound in our ears, and though the well of tears has long since dried, we do not forget, and we do not forgive.

Our brothers' eyes, wide with fear, as they left the land of the living in ignorance of their crime, their lifeless gaze still seeking salvation that would not come; their screams, their tears, their silent weeping penetrates us to this day.

Ever since, and for all eternity, we will stand in the shadow of the worst crime in history. Wherever we tread, throughout the land of Israel, the memory of the Holocaust, its trauma and its oppression and its lesson, accompanies us on our way.

We have not been broken. Faced with the helplessness of this place confronting this terrible desperation and the processions to the firing squads, gallows, gas chambers and crematoria - and yet the people of Israel live on.

We rose from the dust of the victims, and we established a nation and people of moral fiber, of culture and spirit, of military strength.

Fifty years later and we have today enough forces and spiritual power in order to stand the tests of time, to confront enemies, to build a home and provide a shelter for the persecuted. We have within us the strength and the will to strike at all evil - as well as the strength and the will to reach out towards peace and towards our enemies.

Our brothers' ashes call from within this terrible land. We miss you. We miss your Jewish heart, your mothers' love, your children's laughter. History has not been merciful to you - for you the foundation of the State of Israel came too late. Nothing has remained for us but to fulfill your commands. Those you whispered on this "ramp" that led you to your death. Those written on the walls of these cabins, in your blood. Those that rose from your shrieks in the gas chambers. Those that accompanied you to your silent death in the ovens. While our spirit is still with us, while the nation of Israel lives on, this terrible tragedy will never be repeated. We will protect every Jew everywhere. Our blood will not be spilled needlessly again.

I am speaking here in the name of the people of Israel, and with me here stand the survivors snatched from the flames, and who managed to reach home. I am speaking here in the name of the children that went on to build their homes - homes that you would never know.

In the name of the fighters of Israel, I salute these silent stones. These ashes. I salute you -- you who did not live to see us fulfill the drama of generations.

"May the earth never cover their blood - and may their cries never find respite."

Source: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs