It was at the heart of Hitler’s “final solution” – the genocide of European Jews – and today the world remembers the moment when the Auschwitz nightmare finally came to an end. An estimated 1.5 million people were killed at the Nazi death camp, which was liberated by Russian troops exactly 60 years ago. World leaders from 45 countries will take part in the memorial near Krakow in southern Poland.
Some, like Russian leader Vladimir Putin, US Vice President Dick Cheney and French head of state Jacques Chirac have had to delay their arrival because of the bad weather. More snowstorms are forecast for later today.
Some 2,000 Holocaust survivors will be present. Their message is that that the world should not be allowed to forget the horror of what happened. Six million Jews died under the Nazis, along with several million others including homosexuals, Gypsies and Soviet prisoners of war.
The Israeli President Moshe Katzav, who on Wednesday paid tribute to the British soldiers who fell in World War II, is one of the most high profile figures present. The Israeli Prime Minister has marked the anniversary with a harsh speech criticising Allied forces for not doing more to stop the Jews from being killed. He said his people had learned they could only rely on themselves.