Holocaust Remembrance Day: Nazi death camp survivors mark 79th anniversary of Auschwitz liberation

OSWIECIM, Poland (AP) — A group of survivors of Nazi death camps marked the 79th anniversary of liberation. Auschwitz-Birkenau Camp Saturday in a casual ceremony in southern Poland during World War II.

About 20 people survived from various camps set up by Nazi Germany Across Europe they laid wreaths and flowers and candles at the death wall at Auschwitz.

Later, the group will pray at the memorial in Birkena. They commemorate about 1.1 million victims of the camps, mostly Jews. The memorial site and museum are located near the town of Oswiecim.

There were about 6 million European Jews Killed by the Nazis during the Holocaust – Mass extermination of Jews and other groups before and after World War II.

Coding International Holocaust Remembrance DayAmong the survivors will be Polish Senate Speaker Malgorzata Kidawa-Blonska, Culture Minister Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz and Israeli Ambassador Yaakov Livneh.

The theme of the observances is the human, symbolized in simple, hand-drawn portraits. They emphasize that the horror of Auschwitz-Birkenau lies in the suffering of the people who were detained and killed there.

Holocaust victims were commemorated across Europe.

Leaders of various faiths attend the 79th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi German death camp by Soviet troops at the Memorial to the Heroes of the Ghetto in Warsaw, Poland, Friday, Jan. 26, 2024. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

In Germany, people laid flowers and lit candles at memorials to victims of Nazi terror, as Chancellor Olaf Scholes said his country would continue to take responsibility for this “crime against humanity”.

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He called on all citizens to defend Germany's democracy and fight against anti-Semitism The country marked the anniversary Liberation of Auschwitz.

“Never again is every day,” Schalls said on his weekly video podcast. “Jan. 27 calls us: Be visible! Be heard! Against bigotry, against racism, against misogyny — and for our democracy.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is struggling to fend off a full-scale invasion by Russia, posted a picture of a Jewish menorah on X, formerly known as Twitter, to mark the anniversary.

“Every new generation must learn the truth about the Holocaust. Human life should be the highest value for all countries in the world,” said Zelensky, who is Jewish and lost relatives in the Holocaust.

“Eternal memory to all victims of the Holocaust!” Zelenskyy tweeted.

In Italy, Holocaust commemorations include torchlit processions accompanied by official statements by high-level political leaders.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said her conservative nationalist government was committed to eradicating anti-Semitism, which she said had been “resurgent” amid the Israel-Hamas war. Meloni's critics have long accused him and his Brothers of Italy party of having neo-fascist roots and failing to adequately atone for its past.

Later on Saturday, left-wing movements planned a torchlit procession to remember all Jewish victims of the Holocaust – Jews but also Roma, homosexuals and political dissidents deported or exterminated from Nazi concentration camps.

Police were also on alert after pro-Palestinian activists indicated they would defy police orders and go to a rally planned to coincide with Holocaust commemorations. Italy's Jewish community has complained that such protests have become an occasion for anti-Jewish forces to use Holocaust remembrance and anti-Semitism.

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In Poland, a memorial service was held on Friday with prayers at the foot of the monument in Warsaw. Heroes of the GhettoHe died fighting the Nazis in 1943.

Earlier in the week, the countries of the former Yugoslavia signed an agreement in Paris to jointly renovate Block 17 of the red-brick Auschwitz camp and establish a permanent exhibition commemorating the roughly 20,000 people deported from their territories. Vol. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia will participate in the project.

Protecting the camp is a bad sign The horrors of the HolocaustWith its wildly misleading “Arbeit Macht Frei” (“Work Makes One Free”) entry, it requires sustained effort by historians and experts and considerable funding.

The Nazis, who occupied Poland from 1939-1945, first used the old Austrian military barracks at Auschwitz as a concentration and death camp for Polish resistance fighters. In 1942, Birkenau's wooden barracks, gas chambers, and crematoria were added to exterminate Europe's Jews, Roma and other nationalities, and Russian prisoners of war.

Soviet Red Army troops liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau on January 27, 1945, which held about 7,000 prisoners, including children and those too weak to walk. The Germans evacuated tens of thousands of other prisoners a quarter of a day earlier, in what is now known as the Death March, as many prisoners died of exhaustion and freezing temperatures.

Since 1979, the site of Auschwitz-Birkenau has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Kirsten Kreishaber in Berlin, Nicole Winfield in Rome and Joanna Kozlowska in London contributed to this report.

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