Poland remembers Holocaust victims
Holocaust survivors have returned to Auschwitz, Nazi Germany’s most infamous death camp, to take part in commemorations marking the 77th anniversary of its liberation.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, only a small group of guests, mainly survivors, took part in the commemoration, which was also available online.
Former Auschwitz inmate Halina Birenbaum warned that interest in the crimes committed during WWII and the Holocaust was declining.
"The Holocaust is growing less and less interesting to mankind in a world marked by conflicts, new fatal illnesses and the pandemic," she said while addressing the gathering.
In his address, Piotr Cywiński, the head of the Auschwitz Museum located on the camp’s site, said that the motto "Never again" did not come into existence after the war as "it had been earlier heard in the camp."
"And this was not a call for eternal remembrance but for reflection, this was a motto for future times," he said.
Taking to Twitter, Andrzej Duda, the Polish president, posted a picture of himself holding a piece of paper with the words "We Remember" printed on it.
Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau had earlier written on Twitter to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day: "I pay tribute to those who were murdered in the German-Nazi death camps, as well as those who helped innocent victims to hide & escape the atrocities."
Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska, deputy speaker of the Sejm, the lower house of parliament, said during a ceremony at the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes in Warsaw: "For us, the Polish people, the remembrance of the victims is of special importance.
"The Holocaust destroyed the Jewish world that had developed in our country for centuries," she continued, adding that 3 million murdered Polish Jews accounted for 50 percent of all Jews murdered during the Shoah.
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.
It was liberated by the Red Army on January 27, 1945. In 1947, the camp site was declared a national memorial site. International Holocaust Remembrance Day was established by the UN on January 27, the anniversary of the camp's liberation.