Polish, Israeli presidents pay homage to Polish WWII hero

The two presidents laid flowers at the monument honouring Pilecki, located at the site of the Pilecki State College in Oświęcim. Andrzej Grygiel/PAP

Polish President Andrzej Duda and his Israeli counterpart Reuven Rivlin in Oświęcim, southern Poland, on Monday paid homage to Witold Pilecki, the Polish war hero who volunteered to go to Auschwitz and then warned the world about the Nazi death machine.

Pilecki was murdered by Poland's communist authorities after the war.

The two presidents laid flowers at the monument honouring Pilecki, located at the site of the Pilecki State College in Oświęcim.

The ceremony was also attended by Pilecki's daughter, Zofia Pilecka-Optułowicz.

After the wreath-laying ceremony, Presidents Duda and Rivlin will hold a face-to-face meeting, after which they will deliver statements for the press.

The 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi German Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp is being observed on Monday.

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.