Benedict XVI 'likely to visit Auschwitz in June'

2nd December 2005, Comments 0 comments

2 December 2005, WARSAW - Pope Benedict XVI is likely next year to visit the Nazi death camp Auschwitz where more than one million people perished during World War II, unconfirmed Polish media reports said Friday.

2 December 2005

WARSAW - Pope Benedict XVI is likely next year to visit the Nazi death camp Auschwitz where more than one million people perished during World War II, unconfirmed Polish media reports said Friday.

According to Archbishop of Krakow Stanislaw Dziwisz, former chief aide to the late Polish-born Pope John Paul II, German-born Pope Benedict XVI would probably arrive in Poland June 10 or 11.

Initial plans call for the pontiff to visit Warsaw and the southern Polish royal city of Krakow where Pope John Paul II served as a priest, bishop and cardinal prior to being elected pope in 1978.

Unconfirmed Polish media reports also said Pope Benedict would likely visit Auschwitz, near Krakow, and the late Pope John Paul II's home-town of Wadowice.

The Polish PAP news agency reported unnamed Vatican officials as saying Benedict intended to pay his respects to the 1.1 to 1.5 million people who perished at Auschwitz.

The late Pope John Paul II became the first Roman Catholic pontiff to visit the site during his initial homecoming to Poland after having been elected pope in 1978.

Built by Nazi German dictator Adolf Hitler's Third Reich as part of his "final solution" policy to kill European Jews, the Auschwitz- Birkenau twin death camps were the largest of well over a thousand WWII Nazi German death and concentration camps.

Its victims died either asphyxiated with Zyklon B gas in its gas chambers or from starvation, disease, shooting or exhaustion.

Ninety per cent of the victims were European Jews, most of whom perished in the gas chambers.

Six-and-a-half million Polish citizens, or some 20 per cent of Poland's pre-war population, perished under nearly six years of Nazi German occupation between 1939-1945.

Half were Polish Jews. They also constituted roughly half of the grisly total of more than 6 million European Jews killed by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

Prior to the war, Poland was home to more than 3.5 million Jews - the largest Jewish community in Europe.

DPA

Subject: German news

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