HUNTSVILLE, Ala.(WHNT)-Mass genocide on a scale never before seen, and thankfully never since equaled. On Sunday, local Jews and Christians in north Alabama and around the globe paused to remember the millions who were massacred during the Holocaust.
Hundreds of people gathered at the Huntsville Museum of Art for Holocaust Remembrance Day, an official holiday in Israel, and unofficially observed in Jewish communities in the United States and other nations. More than 6 million Jews were systematically murdered during the Nazis' reign of terror in World War Two. One local Holocaust survivor shared her heart-wrenching story with audience members.
German-born Huntsville resident Hilda Nathan was just a teenager when she was separated from her family in Germany, with her father and brother later killed at the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp.
"You almost get to a point where you walk around almost numb," said Nathan, who spoke candidly about her experiences while noting new waves of anti-Semitism coming from Iran and other parts of the world. "I want people to understand that this thing happened, that it was an evil we hope will never happen again. But unfortunately in the world there's still a lot of this going on...It's still happening, and we have to try and fight this evil."
Rev. Rusty Nelson was one of several Christian leaders attending Sunday's Holocaust Remembrance event, an observance known as "Yom HaShoah" in Hebrew. Nelson was recognized for his efforts in highlighting the historical importance of the Holocaust period, and its relation to current events.
"We remember that this happened, and we can never let it happen again," said Nelson, who serves as head pastor at The Rock Family Worship Center in Huntsville. "It could happen again, and we need to realize that history can repeat itself if we stick our head in the sand and pretend as though nothing would happen. Standing in solidarity with the Jewish people, the nation of Israel, is vital."
The Jewish Federation of Huntsville-North Alabama organized Sunday's ceremony. Hundreds of similar events are being held in both the United States and Israel through Monday.
This year's Holocaust Remembrance Day coincides with the seventieth anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in World War Two. That uprising was the largest-scale rebellion against Nazi forces in Europe, and the single greatest act of Jewish resistance during the Holocaust.