Never let it happen again, say Auschwitz survivors

The rise in anti-Semitic attacks in Europe and the US and the criminal indifference of the West to the fate of Jews in Nazi death camps came under sharp criticism at a ceremony on Monday in Auschwitz, Poland, that heard stories of survivors and honoured more than a million killed 75 years ago, reports say. 

In their speeches, survivors and world leaders said the genocide committed by Hitler’s Nazi Germany should never be allowed to happen again.

From mid-1942, Nazis carried out a slow and systematic extermination of Jews by deporting them from across Europe to death camps in Auschwitz-Birkenau, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor and Treblinka, said a 93-year-old Polish-Jewish survivor Marian Turski.

To prevent such genocides, nations must shed their indifference and stand with minorities to protect their rights and democracy, Turski added.

David Lenga, 93, another Polish Jew who survived Auschwitz, said Allied forces knew what was happening in Nazi camps as they flew over them. They could have done something to stop the killings by bombing the rail track leading to these camps but did nothing, Lenga said.

World Jewish Congress head Ronald Lauder said many countries in Europe made Auschwitz happen by helping the Nazis take away their Jewish citizens.

Seventy-five years later, Auschwitz survivors are shocked to see that their grandchildren face the same anti-Jewish hatred. The rhetoric and sporadic attacks by the so-called white supremacists against them must stop in the US and Europe, Lauder said.

Several among the 200-odd Auschwitz survivors who attended the memorial ceremony sobbed as Lauder told them the story of a survivor who watched his young daughter in a red coat walk turning into a red dot as she walked into the gas chamber.

The world should never let this happen again to any people, Lauder said.

In his address, Polish President Andrzej Duda said the memorial ceremony assumes significance because of the large presence of some of the last survivors of the Holocaust.

Duda called upon the presidents, prime ministers and Royals from some 60 countries who attended it to pass the warming message of Auschwitz to future generations so that the horrible crimes committed by Nazis will never be repeated.

Earlier, the survivors, many of them wearing their death camp uniforms and carrying lighted candles, walked along the rail track towards the Auschwitz camp, passed through the gate with the slogan ‘Arbeit macht Frei’ (‘Work makes you free’) above and laid floral wreaths at the Death Wall where Nazis had gunned down thousands of prisoners.