Lithuanian leader cancels trip to Jerusalem Holocaust Forum

"I will go to a symbolic site - the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp - to pay tribute to the millions of Jews who perished in the Holocaust during World War Two," Nauseda wrote. He added that he also "bowed his head" before the 200,000 Lithuanian Holocaust victims. Valda Kalnina/PAP/EPA

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda on Tuesday announced that he would not attend the January 23 World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem, but would come to Poland for January 27 observations of the 75th liberation anniversary of the Nazi-German Auschwitz death camp.

Explaining his decision in a press release, Nauseda said he planned to attend the January 27 commemorations in Poland, as the Auschwitz memorial site symbolised the Holocaust.

"I will go to a symbolic site - the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp - to pay tribute to the millions of Jews who perished in the Holocaust during World War Two," Nauseda wrote. He added that he also "bowed his head" before the 200,000 Lithuanian Holocaust victims.

Nauseda's press statement did not say if his decision was related to Russian leader Vladimir Putin's presence at the Jerusalem forum.

The Germans established the Auschwitz camp in 1940, initially for the imprisonment of Poles. Auschwitz II-Birkenau was opened two years later and became the main site for the mass extermination of Jews. There was also a network of sub-camps in the complex. The Germans killed at least 1.1 million people at Auschwitz, mainly Jews, but also Poles, Roma and Soviet prisoners of war.

In 1947 the camp was declared a national memorial site.