INDIANAPOLIS —The 16th annual Holocaust Observance and Names Reading Ceremony was held Wednesday at the Indiana Statehouse Rotunda.
The ceremony included the first ever Names Reading Ceremony, where survivors and descendants of those who passed through the death camps spent an hour reading some of the names of the six million killed in the camps.
The program included remarks by Gov. Mike Pence’ Mayor Greg Ballard’ Shelby Anderson, president of the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council; Clayton Graham, chairperson of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Indiana Holiday Commission; Jamal L. Smith, executive director of the Indiana Civil Rights Commission; and Rabbi Dennis Sasso of Congregation Beth-El Zedeck.
As part of this year’s program, “Honoring Our Families,” second generation survivor Tibor Klopfer spoke of his mother’s journey.
Klopfer’s mother lived in rural Hungary, where in the 1930s the anti-Jewish racial laws were designed to make life difficult for the Jews — such as restriction on education and property.
In early 1944 the Hungarian government, recognizing Nazi Germany was losing the war, sought to make peace with the Allies. Nazi Germany reacted by occupying Hungary, installing a NAZI Public Government, and within days they started using the brutality of NAZI policies.
“They began by forcing Jews — my mother, grandmother, and aunt out; the three of them ended up in a ghetto of deportation in a nearby city,” Klopfer said. “They were forced onto railway cars toward Auschwitz, their train stuffed with 2,800 Jews. When they arrived, my grandmother and aunt were then directed to the left with the children and the elderly, my mother was directed to the right with able bodied Jews. I don’t think my mother knew that would be the last time she would see my grandmother and aunt.”
His mother began work at Auschwitz, being forced to dig and move rocks by hand on the railroad.