Vigil lights commemorate Holocaust victims on Auschwitz site

Andrzej Grygiel/PAP

Six vigil lights were lit on Tuesday at the memorial site of the Nazi-German Auschwitz death camp in southern Poland to commemorate six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust. In 1951, the Israeli parliament instituted April 21 as Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The six memorial candles mark the Holocaust anniversary in place of the March of the Living event traditionally held on that day at the Auschwitz site. This year's march has been called off due to the coronavirus epidemic.

The Germans established the Auschwitz camp in 1940, initially for the imprisonment of Poles. Auschwitz II-Birkenau was established two years later. It became the 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.

Auschwitz was liberated by the Red Army on January 27, 1945. In 1947, the camp site was declared a national memorial site.