SUFFOLK, Va. – Sailors and Department of the Navy civilian employees assigned to Naval Information Forces (NAVIFOR), Naval Network Warfare Command (NAVNETWARCOM), Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet, Suffolk and Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command (NCDOC) gathered to hold a Holocaust observance, April 27.
The command's multicultural committees organized the program by hosting two docents, Dorothy Hughes and Elka Mednick, from the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, to speak on behalf of the late David Katz, a Holocaust survivor and to reflect upon the genocide of more than six million European Jews during World War II.
Rear Adm. Matthew J. Kohler, commander, NAVIFOR, delivered the observance’s opening remarks.
“This year’s theme, ‘Learning from the Holocaust: The strength of the human spirit,’ is all about remembering the people who perished in this criminal act called the Holocaust, in order to keep the victims memories alive by ensuring the victims did not die in vain, to remember the depth to which human beings can fall and to make sure it never happens again,” said Kohler.
The remembrance was highlighted by the story of Katz’s experiences as a prisoner, orphan, fugitive and member of the French Resistance.
Katz, a native of Leipzig, Germany, was three years old when Hitler assumed power in 1933. Katz and his parents, who were classical musicians, fled to Belgium and then to France; however, they were arrested and spent two years in a number of camps operated by the Vichy collaborationist government.
In 1942, his parents were sent to Auschwitz and Katz was sent to an orphanage by a French children’s aid organization. A year into his stay there, it was raided by Nazis and he escaped. At age 12, he was on his own.
The young Katz survived with the help of a priest and a farmer. He then became a member of the French Resistance as a courier until the war was over. Katz emigrated to the United States in 1946 with the help of relatives. He died in Chesapeake, Virginia in 2012.
“History often repeats itself and genocide even happens today so if we can learn anything about the Holocaust from stories of survivors like David Katz, it is that we must all be champions of human rights and justice by speaking out against all forms of intolerance and hatred,” said Hughes.
The event concluded with military and civilian personnel reciting the poem, “Who Am I to Speak of a Time,” by Ron Adler. The team also lit candles honoring victims of the Holocaust.
The U.S. Congress established “Days of Remembrance” as the nation's annual commemoration of the Holocaust and to memorialize the six million Jews who were murdered, as well as the millions of non-Jewish victims of Nazi persecution.
Public law 96-388 established the United States Holocaust Memorial Council in 1980 and authorized the actions of the council. Each year, the president issues a presidential proclamation for the observance. Congress also created the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum as a permanent living memorial to the victims.
NAVIFOR’s mission is to provide combat-ready Information Warfare forces to operational commanders, ashore and afloat, that are forward deployable, fully trained, properly manned, capably equipped, always ready, well-maintained and combat sustainable.
For more information on NAVIFOR, visit the command's website at http://www.public.navy.mil/fltfor/navifor/Pages/Default2.aspx, our Navy News Web page at http://www.navy.mil/local/navifor or Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/USNavyInformationDominanceForces.