French Auschwitz survivors gather in Paris

17th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Jan 16 (AFP) - French survivors of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz gathered at Paris Town Hall Sunday for a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the camp and to recount the horrors they witnessed.

PARIS, Jan 16 (AFP) - French survivors of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz gathered at Paris Town Hall Sunday for a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the camp and to recount the horrors they witnessed.

"How can one describe the cold, the hunger, the beatings, the suffering, the screams, the fear, the filth, the misery, the horror, the gas chamber, death?" asked General Andre Rogerie in an emotional speech as he recounted being deported at the age of 20 to Auschwitz and his subsequent ordeal.

Rogerie, who broke down several times during his speech, recalled one terrible night when "4,000 gypsies were sent to the gas chamber".

"How can one not hear, even now, on a summer night, the gypsies' cry, a cry that echoes the great cry of despair of the millions of Jews that the world failed to hear," he said.

Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe attended the two-hour ceremony along with politicians, religious leaders and the ambassadors of Poland, Germany and Israel. The event was organised by a group representing Auschwitz survivors.

French former health minister Simone Veil, who was deported to Auschwitz at the age of 16, warned against trivializing the Holocaust by blaming the entire international community for what happened.

"Some want to blame everyone, without making a difference...," she said.

"But I beg to differ. Churchill and Roosevelt were not Hitler, they were not responsible for the absolute evil."

Speaking in a clear voice, Veil recalled digging trenches at Auschwitz, close to the gas chambers.

"There was a patch of lawn there," she said. "It was in May and there were pansies around it and some grass.

"One could also see children's clothes, crutches, strollers, baby bottles, everything that belonged to those who were already dead."

Between 1940 and 1945 more than one million men, women and children - most of them Jews - perished in horrific circumstances at Auschwitz-Birkenau in southern Poland, one of the most infamous of World War Two concentration camps.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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