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Monday, June 3, 2024

Holocaust survivors assemble to honor 78th anniversary of liberation of Auschwitz

The 78th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau was marked on Friday by survivors and other mourners, some of whom expressed anguish that war had once more wrecked peace in Europe.

Holocaust survivors gathered on Friday in the notorious Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, 60 kilometers (37 miles) west of the southern Polish city of Krakow, local media reported.

The ceremony, held under the auspices of Polish President Andrzej Duda, was attended by a group of Auschwitz survivors, as well as senior US officials and US Vice President Kamala Harris’ husband, Douglas Emhoff, according to state-run news agency PAP.

Addressing the ceremony, Auschwitz suvivor Eva Umlauf stressed that the people who suffered in the camp would never forget what they went through.

At Auschwitz, “it is the human being and humanity that matter,” she said.

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Umlauf, born in December 1942 in the Novaky labor camp in Slovakia, was transported to Auschwitz in November 1944.

Zdzislawa Wlodarczyk, another Auschwitz survivor also spoke at the event, saying she was terrified to read reports of what was happening in the ongoing war in Ukraine.

“Russia, which liberated us here, has now been conducting a war against Ukraine. Why? Why does politics look like this?” she said.

Wlodarczyk, born in 1933, was deported to Auschwitz from Warsaw in August 1944, during the Warsaw Uprising against the Nazi regime.

Nazi Germany established the Auschwitz camp in 1940. Auschwitz II-Birkenau was opened two years later and became the main site for the mass murder of Jews.

Until its liberation by the Soviet Army on Jan. 27, 1945, Nazis killed over 1 million people at Auschwitz, mainly Jews, but also Poles, Roma, and Soviet prisoners of war.

Holocaust Remembrance Day

On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, marked every year on Jan. 27, people around the world honor more than 6 million Jews who were murdered during World War II.

Nazi Germany and its collaborators in Europe perpetrated the unprecedented genocide that saw Jews deported by train or truck to six camps that were all located in occupied Poland.

Inmates were massacred in large groups in the concentration and extermination camps established by the Nazi regime.

The notorious Auschwitz camp was one of the largest concentration centers, where 1.1 million people were murdered of the 1.3 million sent there.

During that period, Nazis and German occupation authorities gathered Jewish populations in ghettos established in such cities as Warsaw, Lodz, Krakow, Bialystok, Lublin, and Minsk.

The UN General Assembly designated Jan. 27 – the date when Auschwitz was liberated by the Soviet army in 1945 – as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Anadolu Agency story with additional input from Global Village Space News Desk.