President commemorates first transport of Polish prisoners to Auschwitz

Łukasz Gągulski/PAP

President Andrzej Duda commemorated the 80th anniversary of the first transport of Polish prisoners to the Auschwitz Nazi-German death camp, in south-eastern Poland, during a visit to Oswiecim (Auschwitz) on Sunday.

The first transport of 728 Poles, who were political prisoners from a prison in Tarnow, southern Poland, arrived in the camp on June 14, 1940.

Duda laid flowers at the site where the train with the prisoners stopped in Auschwitz.

In his address, the president said that the Auschwitz site carried the memory of the people who perished there, and appealed for this memory to remain alive, so as to prevent similar atrocities in future.

Duda stated that this earth "is drenched with blood and strewn with the ashes of incinerated human bodies. Earth that calls for remembrance, earth that also calls upon us to never forget, for something like this to never happen again. That no man (...) should even consider to commit such immeasurable, unimaginable evil to other people anywhere in the world," the president said.

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.