Speech by President Reuven Rivlin
The President's speech at the State Ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany
We mark 70 years ago, the victory of the free world over the Nazi beast, the heroism of the Jewish fighter who took part in the battle. We are not standing here as passive passing-by. We stand here, as representatives of a nation that has cast its best sons and daughters into battle.
From the early days of World War II, in the fall of 1939, to its last days in the spring of 1945, the Jewish Allies fought in the framework of the Allies. From the desperate fighting of the Polish army at the beginning of the war to the surrender of Berlin by the Soviet army and the Allies at the end.
Throughout the battle of years and blood, and while their brothers were being led to destruction, the Jewish fighters stood on the front line.
In the War of Independence, a percentage of the Jewish community fell in the battle for the liberation of the country. We, with great justice, citizens of the State of Israel, see this as proof of the degree of sacrifice and the size of the sacrifice. During World War II, 1.5 million Jewish soldiers, 8 percent of the Jewish population, took part.
About half a million of these fighters, about two and a half percent of the entire Jewish population of the time, fell in battle. Do we know that? Do our sons and grandsons know this? Do we understand that the Jewish people are fighting a real battle in the killing fields of Europe? The Jewish fighters fell as ship and submarine commanders, as combat pilots and bombers, as commanders of armored and infantry regiments, engineering and artillery, and simple soldiers.
In every fighting arm and in the ranks of every army that fought the Nazis, you can find glorious and decorated Jewish war heroes. There was no political stream and no Jewish community was excluded from the campaign.
The sacrifice did not go away, not on David Raziel, a member of the Irgun (whose annual memorial service was held this week), and not about Hannah Szenes, the daughter of Hanoar Haoved Vehalomed, who did not miss the Hasidic community of the Sudetenland.
The sabras, who, as instructed by the leadership of the Yishuv, enlisted in large numbers in the British army, including Red Army fighters such as Wolf Wilensky and American soldiers, such as Colonel Mickey Marcus, who also built the IDF's combat doctrine. The military knowledge and experience acquired in the Normandy and El Alamein deserts were implemented within a few years in the heavy systems for liberating Jerusalem and conquering the Negev and the Galilee.
Alik was not born from the sea. He was preceded by Jewish fighters, from ancient times to the days of World War II, which he and the IDF gave him a tradition of heroism.
We look at you with admiration and affection, veterans of World War II. We look back from you and see the faces of the Maccabees. We understand that all of you are members of a glorious chain of Jewish heroism that begins with the biblical tales and ends with the days of those hours, in defense of the people and the land.
The soldiers of the IDF, standing on our borders while providing aid to the Nepali people, who are fighting for their own safety, are your grandchildren, you have taught them the secret of heroism and humanity, purity of arms and courage.
Your heroic heroism, dear war veterans, deserves proper commemoration.
Therefore, from this salute event dedicated to you, I turn to the Government with a request to complete the construction and opening of the museum quickly, thereby giving as many of you as possible the recognition you deserve.