Anniversary of first Auschwitz transport of Polish inmates on June 14

Andrzej Grygiel/PAP

Observations marking the 80th anniversary of the first transport of Polish prisoners to the WWII Nazi-German Auschwitz death camp in Oswiecim, southern Poland, will be held on June 14, with holy masses celebrated on the occasion, the Culture Ministry has said.

The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage said on Friday that June-14 symbolic remembrance ceremonies will be held under the National Patronage of Polish President Andrzej Duda and the Honorary Patronage of Culture Minister Piotr Glinski.

This day is commemorated all over Poland as the National Day of Remembrance for the Victims of German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camps.

The commemorations will end with a holy mass celebrated in Harmeze, near Oswiecim.

On June 14, 1940, 728 Polish political prisoners were transported to Auschwitz from a prison in Tarnow, south Poland. In the group were Polish soldiers caught while attempting to flee to Hungary, members of the resistance, students, school youth and several Polish Jews.

The Auschwitz concentration camp was built by the Germans in 1940 as an incarceration site for Polish nationals, but soon began to receive transports of Jewish descendants from all over Europe. Enlarged by its Birkenau section in 1942, Auschwitz became the main site of the Jewish Holocaust. Nazi Germany killed at least 1.1 million people in the camp, including hundreds of thousands of Polish citizens, mainly of Jewish descent.