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

Amnesty: EU Failing Migrants, Refugees

Rights group says migrants, refugees subject to detention, extortion, beatings More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office 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.
Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deali
X
July 07, 2015 12:02 PM
If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs