“Our commitment must be to remember the victims who perished, respect the survivors still with us, and reaffirm humanity's common aspiration for mutual understanding and justice.”
-- Declaration of the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust
On 30 July the President of the Republic of Latvia Andris Bērziņš and President of the State of Israel Shimon Peres opened a memorial to one of Latvia’s most notable rescuers of Jews during World War II, Žanis Lipke.
In his speech at the museum, President Peres stated, “It’s special, it’s different, it’s deep, it’s moving. And it is so, because the story too is unique, courageous and moving. And so is Žanis Lipke...Lipke is symbolizing the best in human beings. The most noble, the most deepest truth in life – that we do not live just for ourselves, but we live together and for others. To save their lives.”
Descendants of the Jews saved by Žanis Lipke, including representatives of the Smolyanski, Libhin and Tsesvan families, arrived from Israel specifically to be present at the opening ceremony. At the ceremony a speech was given by Boris Smolyanski, who donated his father’s Torah to the museum for exhibition. The family relic had survived through his father’s time in the ghetto and in hiding during World War II. Ester Schumacher, daughter of the rescued Abram Libhin, and Jana Levit brought a twig from the tree planted in 1977 by Žanis Lipke himself near Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.