SCRANTON, Pa. -- Members of the Jewish community were joined by friends and those of other faiths for a somber evening on the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz.
Haunting music filled the room at the Jewish Community Center on Monday while people watched the emotional ceremony that took place across the Atlantic in Poland earlier in the day.
The event marked the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz, and it was held at the former concentration camp where more than a million people, mostly Jews, were killed.
“The collective memories, I hope, will force everybody to look into themselves and wonder what if that was me?” said Dassy Ganz with the Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Ganz said it was moving to hear the Holocaust survivors who spoke at the ceremony.
“The memories of what they had of their families and their former lives in freedom helped keep them going,” said Ganz.
With violent attacks on the Jewish community in New York and in New Jersey in December, a possible spike in anti-Semitism sentiment is on their minds.
“Here's what happens when it goes a little too far. Pretty soon, you lose control over it, and the nice people no longer drive the bus, the bad guys do,” said Jay Weis, a member of the federation.
Outside the JCC, the famous phrase “Lest We Forget” is etched on the Holocaust memorial. That is why those at this event say they continue to remember.
Nearly a century has gone by, and there are still those who deny the Holocaust took place.
Donald Banks is not a member of the Jewish faith but did visit Auschwitz 15 years ago.
“There's plenty of evidence there. And what you see is unbelievable in some ways,” said Banks. “You see the luggage displays.”
The Jewish Federation of NEPA hosts an annual Teen Symposium on the Holocaust each spring at the Hilton, which hundreds of high schoolers attend.