Sharon: Never forget Nazi killers
And 'remember the silence of the world'
(CNN) -- Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has told thousands at a march in Poland recalling the Holocaust to "always remember the victims and never forget the murderers."
Jews across the globe Thursday observed Yom HaShoah, the day commemorating the deaths of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust during World War II.
In Israel, a mourning siren wailed and people across the country halted what they were doing and stood in silence for two minutes. The countrywide observance is an annual custom in the Jewish state.
Memorials, services and vigils were held in communities around the world.
One of the major events took place in southern Poland, where the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp stood. Sharon and thousands of people participated in a March of the Living to commemorate the Holocaust.
Sharon then delivered a speech, later posted on the prime minister's Web site, at the death camp site.
Accompanied by a delegation that included Holocaust survivors, he described them as "men and women who survived persecution, torture, mental and physical degradation; true heroes who experienced the death marches, the deportations and searches, who survived ghettos, Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Bergen-Belsen, valleys of death, and concentration and death camps whose monstrous names are carved in blood in the history of our people."
Also part of the delegation were grandchildren of survivors who serve in the Israel Defense Forces.
Remembrance was the theme of Sharon's speech.
"Do not forget how millions of Jews were marched to their deaths while the world stood silent; how thousands of Jews floundered in stormy waters searching in vain for sanctuary while the world stood silent; how the borders were closed and how the Jews were herded again behind barbed-wire fences -- into detention camps in Cyprus."
He added: "I am certain that all my colleagues -- world leaders -- remember how the world stood by in silence. Do not let them forget -- remember the silence of the world."
And, speaking to the young people in the crowd, he said: "It will be incumbent on you to tell of the Holocaust when there is no longer anyone to provide first-hand testimony."
You "have the duty to bequeath the lesson, memories and stories, to underscore the importance of the existence of the Jewish state."
One person from Morocco, in Poland for the march, described the demonstration as a "message for the future," and added, "We cannot accept (a) second Auschwitz, even if we are living in the South Pole. OK? That's why we are here."
Katia Egett, a Hungarian Jew who spent a year in Auschwitz, who was visiting with a group from Montreal, Canada, told Reuters: "I want to say goodbye to my mother and my family. Their graves are not here, but their ashes are. It's hard. I feel cold outside and inside."
An estimated 1.5 million people were murdered at Auschwitz -- most of them systematically in gas chambers.
Also at the ceremony were 1986 Nobel Peace Prize winner Eli Wiesel, Polish Prime Minister Marek Belka and Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany.
In his remarks, Belka said: "The Holocaust committed by the Nazis turned this country, where most of the European Jews used to live and where their culture used to flourish, into a massive grave. This is why initiatives to revive Jewish culture in Poland is so important."
Meanwhile, Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum and memorial in Jerusalem, reported that graffiti comparing Sharon to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler had been scrawled on a building on a road leading to the site.
Some extremist opponents of the Gaza disengagement plan have used anti-Nazi imagery and rhetoric to denounce the plan.
The Jewish settlements in Gaza and a handful in the West Bank are to be evacuated this summer.