Auschwitz survivors gather for memorial 70 years after liberation

kittyworker

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Under the imposing entrance gate of the Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz almost 300 survivors and hundreds of dignitaries remembered its liberation 70 years ago and paid homage to the 1.5 million Jews and other prisoners slaughtered there.

A huge tent spanned illuminated train tracks on which cattle trains had once brought prisoners from all over Europe to the entrance, known as the death gate, at the very spot where one former prisoner told an audience of 3,000 he had witnessed enough atrocities to “keep me awake until the end of time”.

Survivors from around 19 countries and dignitaries – including the French president, François Hollande, and German president, Joachim Gauck – crossed snowy train tracks to lay candles at the selection ramp where prisoners had been chosen, often on the whim of SS guards, either for the gas chambers or for slave labour.

An audience watched the moving scenes on television screens as grandchildren and children escorted their relatives across the concrete platform which glistened with ice and falling snow and was flanked by a row of flags in the blue and white striped material of the camp’s prison uniforms.

The Polish president, Bronislaw Komorowski, called Auschwitz a “wound that is open and hurting”, and said it had signalled the collapse of civilisation, “when German Nazis launched a real death industry and a human being was reduced to a tattooed camp number”.

He expressed “gratitude and respect” towards the Ukrainian soldiers of the 101 Lviv infantry division who were the first to enter the camp on 27 January 1945. But his pointed reference to Ukraine and his failure to specifically mention Russia’s Red Army, coupled with his reference to the “two totalitarian regimes” (Nazi and Soviet) that held Poland in their grip for decades, will further infuriate Russia’s leadership who had already made clear their anger at not being given an official invitation to the memorial ceremony.

In an eloquent address, 86-year-old Polish writer Halina Birenbaum, who was led to the podium by her grandson, described Auschwitz as a “bottomless pit of hell that I couldn’t get out of”, recalling her impressions as an 11 year old of the “grey bone faces with legs like sticks wearing muddy clogs, nothing reminding you of anything remotely human”.

She said that even if she could have, trying to forget her experience had never been an option, because “it’s only in my memory that can I be next to my loved ones”.

She was given a standing ovation by President Hollande and other guests, many of whom wiped away tears.

Ninety-three-year-old Kazimierz Albin captivated the audience with an account of his escape on the evening of 27 Feb 1943, one of the 10% of breakouts that was successful. He remembered the “excruciating yell of the siren” as he ran through the icy river Sola and named Harald Fritz, the SS guard who had greeted him and 727 fellow political prisoners as they arrived at Auschwitz with the chilling message: “For the Jews, two weeks; for priests, a month; for the young and healthy, three months … the only way out of here is the chimney.”

Roman Kent, 86, fought back tears, his voice cracking, as he told political leaders to strive to ensure no repetition of the Holocaust, because “we do not want our past to be our children’s future”. He then repeated the sentence because it was “the key to my existence”.

The billionaire philanthropist Ronald Lauder who has donated millions towards the preservation of the remains of Auschwitz, including the mountains of shoes and suitcases of prisoners, as well as the eight tonnes of human hair which is on display at the memorial museum, said that the anniversary had taken on a different significance following the recent attacks in France in which four Jews were killed, and the rise of antisemitism, which had made Europe “look more like 1933 than 2015”.

“Once again young Jewish boys are afraid to wear yarmulkes on the streets of Paris and Budapest and London; once again, Jewish businesses are targeted and once again Jewish families are fleeing Europe”, he said.

The screeching sound of the shofar, a pitchless ceremonial horn, then filled the air, followed by a recitation of the Kaddish. Survivors spontaneously embraced each other as David Wisnia, an 89-year-old survivor from Philadelphia who as a teenager had been forced to sing for SS guards, chanted the funeral prayer El Male Rachamim, his powerful voice resounding around the tent’s walls.
source: Auschwitz survivors gather for memorial 70 years after liberation | World news | The Guardian

I'm curious if there are any Holocaust deniers present on these forums. I know you can find them elsewhere on the internet with relative ease, but that site (which I shall not name) scares me. If you are a denier, what do you think took place? Do you believe that it took part in smaller numbers or not at all?

Its always baffled me that people could be presented with so much evidence and still remain closed to the truth.
 

missbishi

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Sadly, things seem to have come full circle in Europe, with the anti-semetic attacks in France. Recent events make this memorial service more important than ever.

How on earth can people flatly deny that these atrocities never took place though?
 

xTinx

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Why should I deny the Holocaust? That was a huge waste of lives. I will not, for the life of me, forget the senseless deaths of 6 million Jews who died just because of the blood in their veins. Just because a lunatic with military power and extreme influence commanded their annihilation for his own benefit. In fact, I have a feeling history will repeat itself with someone like Putin lurking in the background of world affairs. He is so like Hitler, overly concerned about the supremacy of the Russian race.
 

tournique

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There was a memorial in Romania as well and one of the survivors recalled what they were told when arrived as Auschwitz. "Welcome to Auschwitz, you arrived through the gate and you will leave through the chimney."
 

gmckee1985

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Halocaust deniers are the absolute worst. Not people who are worthy of respect at all. The atrocities of the Halocaust must remind us all of the evil that human beings can be capable of. Its important for us to not allow anything like that to ever happen again.
 

starshine

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I've met some Holocaust deniers -- not that they denied it happened, they mostly claimed that it did happen, but that only two or three millions Jews were killed, not six millions. They said this after having visited places like Dachau, where they say that they don't believe this was engineered for gas chambers killing because if it would, it would not be isolated good enough to shield the non-Jews or something. A tons of other reasons were brought up, though, but I made the mistake of getting emotional about it and I don't actually *know* by heart the facts, I just never bothered to since it's not my specialization. Those two errors of me made me seem to the person like I just was getting told the story and never questioned it and therefore, should not talk about things that I don't know without first questioning them.

*sigh*

To be fair, historians do debate on specific points of the Holocaust, about numbers and places etc, etc. But deniers, they just... go above and beyond, studying specific facts and making a case from this and it's so tiresome to try to see it through with them because, like I say, not my specialization and it's so troubling that they take *my* ignorance to be a proof that they are right. Obviously any historian could debunk everything they say, but to lurk in some forums and bring it up in casual conversations is not really the place to show that they "proved" themselves, really.
 

Gabriel

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I don't know how people can deny the holocaust after the Nuremberg trials where those responsible admitted it and there is evidence to show that there were orders and they were carried out. The problem is that people still haven't learned and genocide still exists (a phrase coined from this) and still exists in the minds of those who are narrow-minded.

The memorial exists to show that people do survive and that those who commit these atrocities will be punished.
 

horse next door

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People who deny the Holocaust are just narrow minded, uneducated people. There are so many proofs and witnesses who are still alive that there is no way the Holocaust was just a simple lie. How can you ignore the fact that around six million people have died because of this regime. If the holocaust was a lie, wouldn't that mean that Hitler was a nice guy after all and people are just hating on him just because of his silly mustache? I do not think so.
 

Waynefire

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When I worked in the EMS field, I had a patient who survived Auschwitz. He was by far the most interesting patient that I have ever had a chance to talk to before. Really gives you a new perspective on life to hear the horrors that he went through.
 

karmaskeeper

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I have no doubt the Holocaust really happened. When I see pictures, or watch movies about this I break down. It's beyond me how this could happen. I just don't see how human beings can do this to one another.
 
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