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“The challenge for us is that we’re battling the clock. With the age of the survivors and the World War II veterans, this will probably be one of the last major gatherings,” he told Reuters.
The ceremony at the museum, one of Washington’s top tourist draws, began with the presentation of flags of three dozen U.S. Army divisions that had liberated Nazi camps.
After speeches by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel and former President Bill Clinton, survivors, American veterans and family members ate lunch and chatted at tables labeled with concentration camps including Auschwitz-Birkenau, Dachau, Bergen-Belsen and Theresienstadt, ghettos like Lodz and Warsaw and regions such as Carpathia and Italy.
Celia Feldman, an 89-year-old survivor of the Auschwitz death camp, said the gathering would be the last that she would attend.
“The next will be (held), but I don’t know how many survivors will be alive, or veterans, you know,” said Feldman, who lives in Queens, New York.
Now it will be up to her children and grandchildren to keep alive awareness of the Holocaust, said Feldman, who was carrying a copy of her memoir, “Bittersweet Memories.”
Luckert, the curator, said the gathering was valuable for giving survivors and veterans the chance to be interviewed and to donate artifacts and documents.