Israel Begins Annual Holocaust Memorial Day

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JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israel has begun its annual Holocaust memorial day with the nation's leaders attending a solemn ceremony.

Sunday night's ceremony at the Yad Vashem memorial begins 24 hours of commemorations. Six million Jews were killed by German Nazis and their collaborators in the Holocaust, wiping out a third of world Jewry.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is warning the world to learn the lessons of the past. Netanyahu linked the Nazi genocide to Iran's suspected drive to acquire nuclear bombs and its leaders' repeated references to the destruction of Israel and its denial of the Holocaust. He said just like before World War II, there are those in the world today who refuse to face uncomfortable truths.

The annual memorial day is one of the most solemn on Israel's calendar. Restaurants, cafes and places of entertainment are shut down, and radio and TV programming are dedicated almost exclusively to documentaries about the Holocaust, interviews with survivors and somber music.