Polish-Israeli ceremony marks anniversary of Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp liberation
January 28, 2014
Delegation of the Knesset on the site of Nazi German death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau
Over a hundred former inmates and about 60 MPs of the Israeli Parliament Knesset, Polish government officials, hundreds of Israelis and Jewish politicians from around the world attended ceremony on Monday to mark 69 years since the liberation of the largest Nazi death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau in southern Poland.
January 27 was established by the United Nations as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day in memory of some six million Holocaust victims, and some 1.5 million victims of Auschwitz, who were mostly Jews.
Some 20 Auschwitz survivors walked through the gate that bares the infamous "Arbeit Macht Frei" (Work Makes You Free) sign and laid flowers at a notorious execution wall on the main Auschwitz site, where inmates, mainly Poles, were executed.
Former Auschwitz inmates recalled their memories in a special ceremony in the Auschwitz camp's female sector Birkenau.
One of the survivors, Noah Klieger, recounted the day of the camp's liberation, including the Death March by 57,000 surviving inmates when some 15,000 of them died after Nazis fleeing the advancing Soviet army in January 1945 forced those still able to walk to march to camps in Germany in freezing weather.
"They rode trucks, cars, motorbikes, bicycles and on horseback, we had to walk. We were unable to keep the pace, those who lagged behind were killed. The (...) roads were littered with bodies of people who'd survived Auschwitz and had now been shot like dogs during this death march", Klieger said.
Israeli coalition leader, Yariv Levin, said that the Holocaust was a horror unprecedented in European history.
"There is no precedent in European history to the horror which befell our people here. We are members of a people who are walking this remembrance road right to the very fundaments of Jewish existence", Levin said.
Levin said that people in Israel should rely on themselves and aim to build a safe world.
"Walking here, on this soil soaked with blood of our brothers and sisters, we must assure our children and future generations that a different world, full of hope and free of fear can be built."
Polish Sejm lower house deputy speaker Cezary Grabarczyk called the Holocaust a "terrible heritage" and remarked that its victims ought to be commemorated by "efforts to change the attitudes of people, societies, states and governments, so that such mad and criminal concepts never again take seed in human minds".