‘We owe them’: Auschwitz survivors receive COVID-19 vaccine on Holocaust Remembrance Day

Hundreds of Holocaust survivors in Austria and Slovakia received their first dose of the coronovirus vaccine on Wednesday, acknowledging the anguish and past suffering 76 years after the Soviet Army liberated the Auschwitz camp in Nazi-occupied Poland It is a tribute.

More than 400 Austrian survivors in their 80s or 90s were expected to receive shots at the convention center in Vienna. Some were brought by shuttle or ambulance, while others accompanied their children. The best of them took the metro.

“We owe it to them,” said Erica Jacobovits, who organized a capital vaccination campaign for the Jewish community of Vienna. “They have suffered such trauma and felt even more vulnerable during this epidemic.”

The Zakubovits set up a vaccination campaign with the support of the Austrian Ministry of Health and Vienna city officials. Twelve doctors, all members of the Viennese Jewish community, volunteered to conduct shots to older Jews.

While the event took place on the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, vaccination was not limited to the survivors of the lament. All Jews from the area older than 85 were eligible to receive them during the special tribute campaign.

Jakubovits said some of the 8,000 members of Vienna’s Jewish community were vaccinated in December, when residents of a Jewish nursing home received the first dose.

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A Holocaust survivor receives the Pfizer / Bioentech vaccine against COVID-19 disease on International Holocaust Remembrance Day in Vienna, Austria, on Wednesday, January 27, 2021. Hundreds of Holocaust survived in Austria and Slovakia. His first coronovirus vaccination on Wednesday marked 76 years after his liberation from the Auschwitz death camp with a special tribute to acknowledge the sufferings of his past, where the Nazis killed more than 1 million Jews and others. All other Jews over the age of 85 were also offered vaccinations. (AP Photo / Ronald Zuck)

Over the past month, most Austrians living in nursing homes have received their first dose of the vaccine against COVID-19, the Austrian news agency APA reported.

Earlier this week, the President of the European Jewish Congress called on all European Union countries to ensure that survivors of the Holocaust period had access to the coronovirus vaccine as soon as possible.

More than 6 million European Jews were murdered by the Nazis during the Third Reich. The EJC estimates that there are approximately 20,000 Holocaust survivors in the European Union today.

The president of the European Jewish Congress said, “Throughout his life, he has shown the strength of emotion, but in the current crisis, many people have died alone and alone in pain, or are fighting for their lives, and many others People are suffering. ” Moshe Cantor said. “We have a duty to the living, to ensure that they are able to live their final years in dignity, without fear and in the company of their loved ones.”

Vaccination efforts have started at a slow pace in 27 countries of the European Union, which are not available in sufficient quantities, leading to widespread criticism from authorities.

In a similar project in Vienna, Bratislava’s Jewish community in Slovakia also vaccinated survivors of the Holocaust on Wednesday.

“We are very, very grateful that vaccination is happening on this symbolic day,” said Tomas Stern, head of the Jewish community in Bratislava.

Some 128 survivors were to receive their first shots at the Jewish Community Center in Bratislava on Wednesday and another 330 in Slovakia in the coming days.

In Israel, home to many Holocaust survivors, more than 80% of people over the age of 70 have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and about 60% have received a second dose. Because Israel’s vaccination campaign has progressed so rapidly, officials said there is no need to drive out Holocaust survivors.

According to the Israeli National Statistics Office, about 900 Holocaust survivors of COVID-19 died in Israel last year and about 5,300 survived.

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Roses with a note "#we remember", Berlin, Germany, is placed on the Holocaust Memorial on Wednesday, January 27, 2021 on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.  (AP Photo / Marcus Schreber)

Berlin, Germany, with a note on the Holocaust Memorial on International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Wednesday, January 27, 2021 called Rosé “#weremember”. (AP Photo / Markus Schreiber)

Most of those killed in the Auschwitz death camp were Jews from across Europe, but other non-Jewish prisoners, including Poles, Roma and Soviet soldiers, were also among the victims.

About 192,000 Jews lived in Austria before World War II. After the destruction of Austria by Nazi Germany in 1938, which was enthusiastically supported by many Austrians, more than 100,000 Jews fled the country. Tens of thousands of people were killed in death camps.

With the end of World War II ending more than three quarters of a century ago, nearly 240,000 Holocaust survivors in the world are all elderly. As many were deprived of proper nutrition when they were young, they today suffer from many medical issues.

In addition, many people live isolated lives, have lost their entire families, and are under psychological stress due to being subjugated to the Nazis.

None of those who received shots in Vienna wanted to interview journalists, a fact Zakubovits caused constant concern among Holocaust survivors.

“People are afraid they can be recognized,” she said. “We know that we are living in a time where anti-Semitism is on the rise. So people are very careful what they do.”

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