Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Yom HaShoah in Hebrew, will be marked Thursday as people around the world gather to commemorate the millions killed by the Nazis during World War II. Over the course of the Holocaust, Nazi Germany slaughtered 6 million Jews, as well as millions of Roma, Slavs, gay people, individuals with disabilities and political enemies.
The somber day was established by the Israeli Parliament in 1951 to loosely align with the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, the largest Jewish revolt against the Nazis during the war. Today, communities, museums and synagogues mark Yom HaShoah by holding ceremonies that emphasize the importance of remembering what happened during the Holocaust and focus on passing down memories of survivors to future generations.
Local governments and schools also often host Holocaust Remembrance Day events, which sometimes involve reading names of those who perished or discussing other instances of genocide throughout history. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has a map where you can look up remembrance events taking place near you.
In honor of the day and the focus on remembrance, here are 12 quotes by survivors, writers and leaders to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust.
“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” — Elie Wiesel
“Blessed is the match consumed in kindling flame. Blessed is the flame that burns in the secret fastness of the heart. Blessed is the heart with strength to stop its beating for honor’s sake. Blessed is the match consumed in kindling flame.” — Hannah Senesh
“Six million of our people live on in our hearts. We are their eyes that remember. We are their voice that cries out. The dreadful scenes flow from their dead eyes to our open ones. And those scenes will be remembered exactly as they happened.” — Shimon Peres
“Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but, above all, thou shall not be a bystander.” — Yehuda Bauer
“We must be listened to: above and beyond our personal experience, we have collectively witnessed a fundamental unexpected event, fundamental precisely because unexpected, not foreseen by anyone. It happened, therefore it can happen again: this is the core of what we have to say. It can happen, and it can happen everywhere.” — Primo Levi
“I don’t want to have lived in vain like most people. I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met. I want to go on living even after my death!” — Anne Frank
“The duty of the survivor is to bear testimony to what happened ... You have to warn people that these things can happen, that evil can be unleashed. Race hatred, violence, idolatries — they still flourish.” — Elie Wiesel
“Fiction cannot recite the numbing numbers, but it can be that witness, that memory. A storyteller can attempt to tell the human tale, can make a galaxy out of the chaos, can point to the fact that some people survived even as most people died. And can remind us that the swallows still sing around the smokestacks.” — Jane Yolen
“Survival is a privilege which entails obligations. I am forever asking myself what I can do for those who have not survived.” — Simon Wiesenthal
“I had to help them. There was no choice.” — Oskar Schindler
“Nations cannot be saved and must not be saved as an afterthought or from considerations of cost-benefit. Unless the moral fire burns within us, the lessons of the Holocaust will never be learned.” — Reuven Rivlin
“It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.” — Anne Frank