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Wednesday, 27 January 2010

“We need to remember lest such atrocities should ever repeat”


The 65th anniversary was celebrated in Oświęcim of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Around 150 former inmates of the camp and numerous politicians took part in the celebrations – including President Lech Kaczyński of Poland, Prime Minister Donald Tusk of Poland, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, and Jerzy Buzek as the head of the European Parliament.


In his speech in Auschwitz, Lech Kaczyński reminded the audience that, according to various estimates, between a million and a million and three hundred and fifty thousand Jews, 75 thousand Poles, 20 thousand Roma, 10-15 thousand Russians and tens of thousands of people of other nationalities perished in the camp.


He emphasized that the genocide was carefully planned and performed by the Third Reich. “What happened here was by no means a succession of unconnected crimes – it was organised by a state, the Germany of the time, the Third Reich. We need to keep this in mind, for those who are strong are not always right."

As part of the celebrations, an international conference of Ministers of Education (“Auschwitz – memory, responsibility, education”) was organised at the Centre for Dialogue and Prayer. Flowers were laid and vigil lights were lit by the Black Wall in the courtyard of Block 11 in the former area of Auschwitz I where the Germans shot thousands of people. The first vigil light was lit by Lech Kaczyński and three former prisoners of the camp. Two of the former prisoners were Polish – Zofia Posmysz-Piasecka and Jerzy Ulatowski – and one was a Romanian Jew – Eva Moses Kor. Soon afterwards, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, Andrei Fursenko, the Minister of Education representing Russia, and Jerzy Buzek, the head of the European Parliament, approached the monument. Christian and Jewish prayers were said before tribute was paid before the monument.

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