News / Europe

Survivors, World Leaders Mark 65th Anniversary of Liberation of Auschwitz

Multimedia

Audio

Holocaust survivors joined world leaders in southern Poland on Wednesday to mark the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the infamous World War II Nazi concentration camp. 
 
Hundreds of people braved snow and sub-freezing temperatures to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day at Auschwitz, Nazi Germany's most infamous concentration camp.

The event marked the 65th anniversary of the day the camp was liberated by the Soviet Red Army.

Holocaust survivors and their families gathered with the leaders of Poland and Israel to lay candles at the Monument of the Victims in neighboring Birkenau, where the majority of Auschwitz prisoners were murdered.
 
In a speech before the ceremony, Polish President Lech Kaczynski said that what happened at Auschwitz was an atrocity conceived and perpetrated by a modern state. 

"We need to remember that not everyone who is strong is right," he said.
 
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also attended the ceremony.  He delivered a message of sadness and hope.

"We sit here in a warm tent and remember those who shivered to death," he said. "And if they didn't freeze to death, they were gassed and burned in a horrible conflagration.  As we stand here together to commemorate the past, we are helping to build a future of decency, and of truth and hope for all the peoples represented here, and for all mankind."
 
Auschwitz and nearby Birkenau, were the largest of the concentration camps and the epicenter of Adolf Hitler's "final solution."  It is estimated that more than one million Jews perished in the two camps along with hundreds of thousands of Poles, Roma and others who were considered undesirable by the Nazi state.  Most were gassed in Birkenau's gas chambers; others died from starvation, disease and physical abuse.
 
When the Soviet Army liberated Auschwitz on January 27, 1945, they found fewer than 8,000 survivors.  The Nazis had destroyed most of Birkenau in their retreat.  Today all that is left of the site are a few wooden barracks and a ghostly forest of brick chimneys where dozens of other barracks once stood.
 
Eva Mozes Kor, 75,  was one of the Holocaust survivors who attended the memorial.  She lost most of her family in Auschwitz, and spent nine months in the camp before being liberated. She was 10 years old at the time.
 
Despite her ordeal, Kor says she hopes the ceremony will inspire peace and forgiveness.

"I believe that the world has not learned how to heal, and that's the reason we keep seeing these tragic human events happening," she said. "Because victims pass on to their children pain and anger.  And many times, children of victims become victimizers.  If I am going to be lighting a candle today with the president of Poland, I would like to tell him that he and his people should forgive the Nazis for everything they have done.  Forgiveness, in my opinion, is a seed for peace.  Anger is a seed for war."
 
The sign over the gate to Auschwitz that reads "Arbeit Macht Frei," or "Work Makes You Free," was stolen in December.  Although the sign has been recovered, it has yet to be reinstalled.

Related report by Deborah Block

You May Like

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs