Photo Credit: Oren Ben Hakoon/POOL
German Chancellor Angela Merkel lays a wreath in Yad Vashem, October 4, 2018.

On the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day (Thursday Jan. 27), the date marking the 1945 liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp by the Red Army, there are 165,800 Holocaust still living in Israel.

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Of those who remain, about 90 percent are older than age 80, according to a report released Wednesday by Israel’s Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.

Some 19 percent of the survivors (31,000) are age 90 or older, and more than 950 are older than age 100. About 60 percent of the survivors (105,000) still living are women, averaging age 85.

Sixty-four percent of the survivors are from Europe, including from the former Soviet Union. But 36 percent are from elsewhere — the Nazis also reached Jews in North Africa and Asia — with 30,600 hailing from Morocco and Algeria, 18,000 from Baghdad and 11,000 from Tunisia and Libya.

Even before the establishment of the Jewish State, five percent of the survivors made their way to Israel. Another 11 percent arrived after the establishment of the state, at the end of 1948.

Some came even later: 48 percent of Holocaust survivors living in Israel immigrated in the late 1950s; 35 percent arrived in 1989.

And they are still continuing to find their way home to the Jewish State: 98 Holocaust survivors made aliyah in 2021.

In Germany, Israeli Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy met with the President Bärbel Bas of the country’s Bundestag (parliament). He briefed its Foreign Affairs Committee in a closed-door meeting that focused on Israel’s concern with Iranian nuclear aspirations, and then met with Germany’s Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, along with Dr. Felix Klein, the Federal Government Commissioner for Jewish Life and the fight against antisemitism.

Levy expressed his appreciation to Minister Faeser and Dr. Klein for their “important work” fighting antisemitism and facilitating Jewish life to prosper in Germany safely, in light of the spike in antisemitism over recent years around the world.

“Israel and Germany enjoy a unique relationship based on shared values, democratic beliefs, commitment to remember the Holocaust and protect the sanctity of Holocaust victims,” Levy said in a statement. “The Bundestag and the Knesset have a fruitful relationship and we are happy to promote it even further.”

Israeli First Lady Michal Herzog and her German counterpart, Elke Büdenbender, hosted Holocaust survivor Charles Siegman Wednesday evening for a virtual “Zikaron BaSalon” (Remembrance in the Living Room) to mark the day.

Joining the live event broadcast on President Isaac Herzog’s Facebook page were representatives of the Jewish Student Union Germany and Haifa University’s Holocaust Studies program. Also joining the event were Germany’s ambassador in Israel, Dr. Susanne Wasum-Rainer; the wife of Israel’s ambassador in Germany, Ms. Laura Kam; and second-generation Holocaust survivor and activist Leah Schenirer.

In addition, Yad Vashem is slated to conduct a symposium via Zoom on the subject for the international diplomatic corps serving in Israel, scheduled to be held Thursday on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.