Holocaust survivors mark Auschwitz liberation
27 January 2006, WARSAW/OSWIECIM - Holocaust survivors told their painful stories of loss and survival at the notorious former Nazi Auschwitz death camp Friday during ceremonies marking the 61st anniversary of its liberation.
27 January 2006
WARSAW/OSWIECIM - Holocaust survivors told their painful stories of loss and survival at the notorious former Nazi Auschwitz death camp Friday during ceremonies marking the 61st anniversary of its liberation.
The UN General Assembly has designated January 27, the day of Auschwitz's liberation by Soviet troops in 1945, as the International Day of Commemoration in memory of victims of the Holocaust.
More than 1.1 million people, mostly European Jews, perished in Nazi Germany's largest and most notorious twin death camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau between 1940 and 1945.
Built in the Nazi-occupied southern Polish towns of Oswiecim- Brzezinka under orders of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, the camp was a pivotal element in his World War II plan of total genocide against Europe's more than 11 million Jews.
Halina Birenbaum, who was interned as a child in the Majdanek Nazi death camp in Lublin, eastern Poland, is the sole survivor of her Jewish family.
"If I would have perished in Treblinka, I would have been with my father; in Majdanek, I would have been with the ashes of my mother; in Auschwitz, I would have been with my brother and sister-in-law; if I were to have died, death would not have been frightening," she was quoted by the Polish PAP news agency as saying at a ceremony at the Auschwitz site.
Sent as a 13-year-old to Auschwitz for his partisan activities against the Nazis, Pole Jerzy Ulatowski recalled his Jewish friend who was marked for death by Auschwitz's doctor Josef Mengele, notorious for sadistic medical experiments on camp prisoners.
"He came to me and said: 'Farewell, my name is Panski. Tell others what happened to me and take my toothbrush,'" Ulatowski said of his friend. "I remember that toothbrush until today," he said.
Ceremonies at the former Auschwitz camp were attended by Speaker of Parliament Marek Jurek and Polish Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, who recalled the words of the late Polish-born pope John Paul II, a first-hand witness to Nazi genocide in WWII German- occupied Poland.
"This crime has forever stained human history," Marcinkiwicz said, repeating the pope's words.
"Let this be a warning today and in the future: one can never allow ideologies which justify the possibility of trampling human dignity due to different race, skin colour, language or religion.
"Auschwitz is the largest European cemetery where there are no graves.
"So much greater is the obligation to remember what happened here to preserve this memory for future generations to honour those murdered and also as a warning to the world still so full of hate and aggression," Marcinkiewicz said.
Some 6 million Jews and millions of others were killed in Europe during World War II under Nazi German rule.
Subject: German news