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Holocaust Remembered At Auschwitz

posted 27 Jan 2013, 07:36 by Mpelembe   [ updated 27 Jan 2013, 07:37 ]

Former death camp inmates and officials have gather at Oswiecim in Poland to commemorate the 68th anniversary of Soviet liberation of Auschwitz.

OSWIECIMPOLAND (JANUARY 27, 2013) (REUTERS) - Survivors of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz on Sunday (January 27) gathered to commemorate the 68th anniversary of its liberation by Soviet troops in 1945.

Between 1.2 and 1.5 million people died at the Auschwitz and Birkenau camps during World War II, most of them Jews. Many of deaths were not registered because on arrival at Birkenau, groups were sent directly from their trains to nearby gas chambers.

Holocaust survivors were joined by politicians and dignitaries in cool conditions insouthern Poland to pay their respects at one of the execution sites at Auschwitz, called 'The Wall of Death', where inmates were shot by death squad.

Wreaths were laid in memory of those who died.

Halina Brzozowska was among the survivors to attend the memorial.

She was a child when she arrived in Auschwitz and recalled the horror of the camp.

"This was a great tragedy, it's difficult to describe," Brzozowska said.

"We've come here because we have to be here, we have to show that people like us were here and suffered. It's unbelievable how much they suffered," she added.

Another former inmate, Wieslawa Borysiewicz, was one of the thousands of Poles deported from Warsaw after a failed uprising in the Polish capital.

She and her family avoided execution by being sent to Auschwitz.

"I stepped through the Auschwitz gate as a 15-year old girl on August 12, 1944 together with my whole family - my brother, sister, mother and father," Borysiewicz said.

"We were brought from the Warsaw uprising. The first six days the Germans were executing everybody on the spot in Warsaw, but we were on the first transport here."

At a ceremony marking the anniversary of the liberation, survivors met with Red Armysoldiers, who first arrived in the camp as part of an offensive heading for Germany.

Ivan Martynushkin was one of them and he recalled that he only found out about the role of Auschwitz in the years following World War II.

"The realisation of what was going on in this camp came only after the commission on Nazi crimes started working, after preparations for the Nurnberg trials began," he told the ceremony.

Nearly six million Jews were murdered in Europe as part of Adolf Hitler's "Final Solution" to what the Nazi dictator called the Jewish problem, according to Yad Vashem, Israel's national memorial to the victims.

Israeli ambassador to Poland Zvi Rav-Nera also addressed survivors and dignitaries at the ceremony. He spoke about the victims and condemned those who questioned the Holocaust.

"Six million Jews were murdered. The Nazis also tortured and murdered here more than one hundred thousand Polish prisoners, Russian prisoners of war and prisoners of other nations, including tens of thousands of Sinti and Roma people; women and children. It is therefore disgraceful and shameful that there are those today, including the leaders of big countries, who deny the Holocaust and call it a lie - the lie of Auschwitz," he said.

A total of 85 percent of the Jewish population in Poland perished during World War II - some 2.8 million people.

Most of the survivors to attend Sunday's ceremony were either born in the camp or were sent there as children.