Former prisoners of Auschwitz gathered at the former Nazi concentration camp on the 74th anniversary of its liberation by Soviet forces.
In the site that once housed the largest Nazi death camp, a group of survivors, politicians and foreign dignitaries marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day in a ceremony Sunday.
“Auschwitz has shown what can happen when the worst qualities in people come to bear,” said Armin Laschet, premier of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Survivors gave testimonies and Poland’s chief rabbi read out the names of all the concentration camps, where many of the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust were killed. Over a million people were killed in Auschwitz alone, most of them Jews. Poland’s prime minister and the ambassadors of Israel and Russia also attended the ceremony.
“People growing up today must know what people were capable of in the past,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in her weekly video address on Saturday. “And we must work proactively to ensure that it is never repeated.”
President Trump added to the chorus of voices decrying the Holocaust on Sunday.
“To remember these men and women — those who perished and those who survived — is to strive to prevent such suffering from happening again,” he wrote in a statement. “Any denial or indifference to the horror of this chapter in the history of humankind diminishes all men and women everywhere and invites repetition of this great evil.”
Sunday’s ceremony memorialized all those who died at Auschwitz, yet a group of far-right Polish activists gathered there and falsely claimed that the Polish government was remembering only Jews.
This year’s anniversary comes amid growing concern among survivors and world leaders alike that the Holocaust has begun to slip from international, collective memory — particularly among younger generations. In remarks both before and on the day of the anniversary, leaders also lamented recent spikes in hate-inspired violence.
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SOURCE: NPR, Francesca Paris