The annual statewide Holocaust Remembrance service was held in Springfield on Thursday. Each year, the scores of Jews and political targets killed by the Nazis are remembered in a service called Yom HaShoah.
Solidarity and somberness echoed through the Old State Capitol hall, where those gathered recalled the six million Jews and millions of others killed by the Nazis during the Holocaust.
Survivor Ida Paluch Kersz was a 3 year-old child in Poland when the Gestapo tore her family apart.
“We were there standing with my mother, my brother and my sister, and when the Gestapo came to my mother, she ran across the street to a building. We followed her, and my mother in desperation, jumped from the third floor.”
Kersz told the assembly she felt compelled to share her story.
“I have to speak because a lot of people say [the] Holocaust did not happen, and I’m [a] witness to the Holocaust. People say children don’t remember. I do. I’ll never forget,” she said.
State Representative Jonathan Carroll (D, Northbrook) echoed those thoughts in his own remarks.
“I would like to say in 2018, we’re past the hate. But I would be lying. It still exists, right here in Illinois,” he said.
A recent study suggests memory of the genocide is fading among the American public. But speakers at the Springfield event emphasized a message of remembrance. They warned in a prayer that “the impossible can become possible, if we do not act in time.”
Governor Bruce Rauner and another state legislator also made remarks.