Poland commemorates Auschwitz liberation anniversary
The main observations of the 75th liberation anniversary of the World War Two Nazi-German death camp Auschwitz launched on Monday afternoon on the camp's memorial site in southern Poland.
Attending the ceremony were delegates from numerous countries and international organisations, including around 200 Auschwitz and Holocaust survivors, four of whom addressed the gathering.
The ceremony was opened by President Andrzej Duda and his wife Agata Kornhauser-Duda. In his address, Andrzej Duda recalled that the Auschwitz camp symbolised the main site of the Holocaust during World War Two.
"We have come here together – members of 61 delegations from all over the world – to jointly commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day. We are standing in front of the gate leading to the camp which claimed the lives of the biggest number of victims and which has become the symbol of the Shoah. We pay tribute to all the six million Jews murdered in this and other camps, in the ghettos and places of torture," Andrzej Duda said.
President went on to say that as the main Holocaust site Auschwitz was unique, as at no other time and in no other place in history had extermination been carried out in this way.
"The Holocaust, of which Auschwitz is the main place and the main symbol, constituted an unexampled crime throughout the whole of history. Here, the hatred, chauvinism, nationalism, racism, anti-Semitism assumed the form of a mass, organised, methodical murder. At no other time and at no other place was extermination carried out in a similar manner," the president said.
The Germans established the Auschwitz camp in 1940, initially for the imprisonment of Poles. Auschwitz II-Birkenau was opened two years later and became the main site for the mass extermination of Jews. There was also a network of sub-camps in the complex. The Germans killed at least 1.1 million people at Auschwitz, mainly Jews, but also Poles, Roma and Soviet prisoners of war.
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It was liberated by the Red Army on January 27, 1945. In 1947, the camp site was declared a national memorial site.(PAP/AW)