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NEWS | May 9, 2024

Army Reserve division hosts annual Holocaust Remembrance

By Staff Sgt. Shawn Morris 99th Readiness Division

The U.S. Army Reserve’s 99th Readiness Division hosted its annual Holocaust Remembrance and Liberation Observation on May 7 at division headquarters here.

The Department of Defense theme for this year’s observance of the Days of Remembrance is, “Behind Every Name a Story: The Courageous.”

“Days of Remembrance was established by the U.S. Congress to honor the lives of more than 6 million Jewish victims, as well as the millions of others not accepted by the Nazi and other fascist regimes during World War II,” explained Mr. Stephen Harlan, 99th RD command historian.

This year’s DoD observance focuses on Adolfo Kaminsky, an Argentine-born member of the French resistance who forged identification papers, passports, food ration cards, and other documents to save the lives of over 10,000 Jews during the Second World War.

“’The math was simple – in one hour, I made 30 fake documents; if I slept one hour, 30 people would die,’” said Harlan, quoting Kaminsky.

The guest speaker for the event was Chap. (Capt.) Yitzhak Hochman, chaplain for the U.S. Army Reserve’s 8th Medical Brigade.

“I grew up in the shadow of the Holocaust,” Hochman said. “My entire community was founded by Holocaust Survivors.”

Hochman explained that his inspiration for joining the Army was Chaplain Herschel Schacter, also known as the “Rabbi of Buchenwald.” Schacter arrived at the liberated Buchenwald concentration camp in April 1945 and found hundreds of Survivors living in squalor.

“Schacter thought, ‘How do we tell them that their suffering is over?’” Hochman said. “Instinctively, (Schacter) blurted out in his native tongue of Yiddish, ‘My brothers, you are free – it is over!’ And that was the Survivors’ introduction to the American Flag.

“The American Flag means a lot,” Hochman continued. “This uniform means a lot to a lot of people out there.”

In 1992, the 99th Infantry Division was recognized as a liberating unit by the U.S. Army’s Center of Military History and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The 99th ID liberated Dachau subcamps near the town of Muhldorf in May 1945.

“It is up to us to keep that memory going because the first-person observers of the camps and the liberations are passing from this world,” Harlan said. “The Holocaust must be acknowledged and remembered, and we must all have the selflessness to protect our fellow human beings.”