Friday, 29 January 2010

World marks liberation of Auschwitz 65 years ago

REUTERS, TVP - The 65th anniversary of the liberation of Nazi death camp Auschwitz was commemorated at ceremonies with survivors, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Polish leaders attending on Wednesday (January 27).
On January 27, 1945, Soviet Red Army troops liberated the largest and most notorious Nazi death camp at Auschwitz, near the village of Oswiecim in southern Poland, where up to 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, perished during World War Two.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended the ceremony at Brzezinka along with Poland's leaders and government ministers from nearly 30 other countries.

The theme of the commemoration at Auschwitz, held in subzero temperatures and attended by around 150 death camp survivors, was the education of young people about the Holocaust.

A few thousand people attended the ceremonies, including some international groups of students.

"I think it's very good that we can see the people and this place. That we have the chance to see the people they were here, and have (speaks German) life today. And yes, I think it's very good and special." said Julia Hausner, a student from Germany.

Up to 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, perished at Auschwitz during Nazi Germany's wartime occupation of Poland.

"We remember who shivered to death and if they didn't freeze to death they were gassed and burnt in a horrible conflagration." Netanyahu said at a closed ceremony in Brzezinka.

"The worst was the humiliation." remembered former prisoner Marian Turski, who was 16 when he was sent to Auschwitz in 1942.

"The fact, that you were not treated like a human being. Especially if you were Jewish and especially because you were Jewish. You were not even treated like an animal, but like an insect." Turski said.

Jewish groups have expressed concern about what they see as a rise in anti-Semitism and other forms of xenophobia and racism in some European countries and have called for increased education about the Holocaust.

Poland was home to Europe's largest Jewish community before World War Two. The vast majority perished in the Nazi camps.

The museum that now runs the Auschwitz site will house an exhibition chronicling the camp's liberation by the Red Army.

Russia was represented on Wednesday by its education minister after President Dmitry Medvedev declined an invitation

from Kaczynski to attend.