Yom HaShoah

Monday, 8th April 2013

9.59 am. There’s the usual hustle, bustle, and drone of office life: fingers tapping on keyboards, mice swishing across desktops, ringtones, the creaking of chairs and furniture, people standing up, sitting down, walking up and down corridors of cubes, holding conversations, and people making coffee or tea or a snack, or raiding the fridge or the biscuit tins in the kitchen. Busy, busy, busy. You can hear the noise of the traffic outside. Then…

10.00 am. The siren starts and we all – and I mean all – are standing up. Some are looking up, some ahead, some down. Some have closed their eyes. You can hear the siren and little else. The wind rattles a window frame, and that’s it; no footsteps, no talk, no movement, no noise of traffic. It’s a long two minutes. Whatever private thoughts we have, we all want this moment to pass. For those who lost close family in the Holocaust, this is a dark, difficult day. For survivors, it must be much worse; one can only imagine.

I’m thinking about last night’s broadcast of the official ceremony, and the stories of the survivors who lit the memorial torches. Each one is a tear jerker. Each story is as sad as it gets, and as strong a message of ultimate survival as it is possible to broadcast: we are here.

10.02 am. The siren dies. Yes, that’s how it sounds. The siren dies and we return to the day at hand, knowing we will never forget.