Capitol ceremony commemorates international remembrance day Opher Aviran (left), Israel’s consul general to the Southeast, joins (from right) House Speaker David Ralston, Rep. John Yates (R-Griffin), Georgia Commission on the Holocaust Executive Director Sally Levine, Hilbert Margol, Edith Benson, Alexis Scott and Howard Margol at the Georgia Capitol to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan. 27.

Twin members of Atlanta’s Jewish community were among six Georgia World War II veterans honored at the state Capitol on Jan. 27 for their roles in liberating Nazi concentration camps between January and May 1945.

Hilbert Margol of Dunwoody and Howard Margol of Sandy Springs served in the 42nd Infantry Division, known as the Rainbow Division, which had a Jewish chaplain, Capt. Eli Bohnen. The 42nd liberated Dachau on April 29, 1945.

Also honored by the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust during the International Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at the Capitol:

  • George Aigen of Valdosta, who was not present.
  • Frank Benson of Loganville, who was represented by his wife, Edith.
  • William Alexander Scott III of Atlanta, who was represented by his daughter, Alexis.
  • Rep. John Yates (R-Griffin).

Those men are profiled with a new panel in the commission’s exhibit series “Georgia’s Response to the Holocaust.” That panel, “Witnesses to Liberation,” is on display at the “Anne Frank in the World: 1929-1945” exhibit in Sandy Springs.

The soldiers who liberated the camps, many of whom were in their late teens or early 20s, took years to process what they had experienced, and their memories and the responsibility to bear witness have stayed with them.

  Longtime Atlanta Jewish community members Hilbert (left) and Howard Margol, shown with Rep. John Yates on Jan. 27, were part of the 42nd Infantry Division when it liberated Dachau on April 29, 1945.

“The Holocaust happened because individuals, organizations and governments made choices that not only legalized discrimination, but also allowed prejudice, hatred and ultimately mass murder to occur,” Sally Levine, the commission’s executive director, said during the Capitol ceremony. “The history of the Holocaust demands that we reflect upon the moral questions raised by this unprecedented event and examine our responsibilities as citizens in a democracy.”

Yates sponsored H.R. 48, which recognized Jan. 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Georgia Capitol. The day marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

“The citizens of the State of Georgia should always remember the terrible events of the Holocaust and remain vigilant against hatred, persecution and tyranny,” the resolution reads.

The resolution cites the value of Holocaust history for reflection on the moral responsibilities of people, governments and societies and calls on Georgians to rededicate themselves to individual freedom in a just society.