The story of a Holocaust survivor told in Vietnam: Lessons of humanity, peace and equality

WVR - “Never again and learn the lesson of peace”, these are the main messages of a memorial event for the victims of the Holocaust held in Hanoi on March 29, 2023.
Thông điệp hoà bình qua lễ tưởng niệm nạn nhân Holocaust tại Việt Nam
The candlelight ceremony held in Vietnam in memory of the Holocaust victims. (Photo: Thu Trang)

The event was co-organized by the Vietnam Peace Committee, the United Nations (UN) in Vietnam, the Embassy of Israel in Vietnam and the Embassy of Germany in Vietnam.

World War II was a dark period in humanity during which the Nazis in Europe systematically murdered more than 6 million Jews, simply because they were Jewish, and other minority groups. For this reason, the UN has decided to commemorate the Victims of the Holocaust with an international day held every year on January 27.

This year, the commemoration in Vietnam was attended by Standing Vice President of the Vietnam Peace Committee Tran Dac Loi, Resident Coordinator of the UN Pauline Tamesis, Israeli Ambassador to Vietnam Yaron Mayer, German Ambassador to Vietnam Dr. Guido Hildner, students from the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam and the Experiment School of Education Science. In addition, a Holocaust survivor has visited Vietnam for the first time to tell her story first hand.

During the ceremony, a group of six Vietnamese representative students from the Experiment School of Education Science and the Diplomatic Academy of Vienam conducted a candlelight ceremony in memory of the Holocaust victims, a tradition kept around the world.

Bà Betty Eppel (trái), nạn nhân Do Thái còn sống sót sau thảm họa Holocaust chia sẻ câu chuyện của mình. (Ảnh: Thu Trang)
The 88-year-old Betty Eppel told her miraculous story of survival. (Photo: Thu Trang)

At the center of the commemoration was the conversation of a large Vietnamese audience with Betty Eppel, a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust. The 88-year-old Betty Eppel told her miraculous story of survival, escaping the fatal death like many millions of Jews.

A Christian family in the south of France hid her from the Nazi persecution in their farm from 1942 to 1945. During that time, at the age of only seven, she lost her mother and younger brother who were sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp. It took her two more decades to learn that both were murdered, most likely by gas chambers.

Betty Eppel has since immigrated to Israel, married and became a mother. She also regularly shares the lessons of that period and her personal tragedy.

The Holocaust memorial event in Vietnam is intended to help Vietnamese people to have a better understanding of the Holocaust and its lessons for humanity. The organizers also hope that peoples who have suffered immensely in wars, like Vietnam, shall continue efforts towards peace and equality.

The Holocaust was the culmination of millennia of hatred and discrimination targeting the Jews – what we know as Anti-Semitism. That has led thousands of entities around the world today to adopt the international definition of Anti-Semitism by IHRA (the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance), in the effort to combat this dangerous phenomenon. Eppels' message is not silent in the face of that again. The obligation to inform and educate the younger generations is ever increasing. Because today, we have fewer living testimonies and surviving witnesses.

Toàn cảnh lễ tưởng niệm nạn nhân Holocaust tại Việt Nam. (Ảnh: Thu Trang)
Overview the memorial event for the victims of the Holocaust held in Hanoi. (Photo: Thu Trang)
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