Survivors Mark 70 Years Since Auschwitz Liberation

World leaders join some 300 at death camp ceremony
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 27, 2015 9:37 AM CST
Survivors Mark 70 Years Since Auschwitz Liberation
Holocaust survivors walk outside the gate of the Auschwitz Nazi death camp in Oswiecim, Poland, Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015.   (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)

Seventy years to the day since the liberation of Auschwitz, some 300 survivors gathered at the infamous Nazi death camp to reflect on the occasion. Candles are being lit at the execution site known as the Death Wall as world leaders attend a ceremony this afternoon. It could be the last time aging survivors are able to gather in such numbers, the BBC reports. Says one 85-year-old of her visits to the camp: "I'll do it for as long as I can. Why? There are still a lot of Holocaust deniers, the world over, and if we don't speak out, the world won't know what happened." The Soviet Union liberated the camp in 1945 and it became a museum two years later.

German president Joachim Gauck and French president Francois Hollande will attend the ceremony; political tensions in Ukraine mean Vladimir Putin will not, though AFP reports that he is involved in a ceremony at a Moscow Jewish museum, per the Telegraph. President Obama, meanwhile, is in Saudi Arabia, the Telegraph notes, but a US delegation is being led by Treasury secretary Jack Lew, the AP reports. Steven Spielberg spoke to survivors last night, introduced by 81-year-old survivor Paula Lebovics as "a man who has given us a voice in history," the AP reports. Meanwhile, European leaders are warning against the specter of continuing anti-Semitism: "We've got to fight anti-Semitism and all racism from the outset," said German chancellor Angela Merkel at a Berlin event last night. "We've got to constantly be on guard to protect our freedom, democracy, and rule of law." (Also expected at today's event: The grandson of Auschwitz's commandant.)

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