JERUSALEM, Israel - Israelis throughout the country stood in silence at 10 a.m. Tuesday as the siren sounded in memory of the six million Jews who perished at the hands of Germany's Third Reich, led by Adolph Hitler.
Traffic came to a standstill. People stood next to their vehicles, heads bowed.
Many contemplated the immensity of what had taken place when whole communities of European Jews were rounded up, loaded on cattle cars and shipped off to death camps, where some were shot to death, others gassed and tens of thousands perish from starvation and cold.
At Jerusalem's Yad VaShem Holocaust Memorial, the day's ceremonies began as the two-minute air raid siren wound down.
Among the dignitaries at Yad VaShem were the president, prime minister, Knesset speaker, IDF (Israel Defense Forces) chief of staff, and the Supreme Court president.
Following the wreath-laying ceremonies, Israeli citizens read out the names of the victims, a tradition arising from the "Unto Every Person There is a Name" project, which has sought to document the names of every person who perished.
At the Knesset, the names of victims were also read out, a tradition now in its 20th year.
The theme of this year's memorial is the 1.5 million children who died at the hands of their Nazi captors.
At last night's opening ceremonies, broadcast live on radio and television, the six memorial torches, each representing 1 million Jews, were ignited by Israelis who survived the Holocaust as children. Each one, including twin sisters, shared his or her story briefly.
Sources: YNet news, The Jerusalem Post