Against the sombre backdrop of Auschwitz- Birkenau, representatives of major world religions have paid tribute to those who died in the Nazi’s most notorious death camp.They gathered after an interfaith peace congress in the nearby Polish city of Krakow. Organised by the Christian Sant Egidio Community, the event marks 70 years since the start of World War Two. Speaking at the site of the former extermination camp, Yisrael Meir Lau, the Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council, said: “We are here, gathered on behalf of the community Sant Egidio which brought us here to the biggest cemetery of mankind in mankind’s history – to the place where there was a factory of death. You can see the picture of Josef Mengele there, standing, and with one finger, he is deciding, “right” or “left”, “life” or “death.” More than a million people, mainly Jews, were murdered at Auschwitz, the largest of the Nazi camps. Over three days, religious leaders have been discussing peace in Krakow where, before becoming pope, the late John Paul II was Archbishop for many years. Benedict, his successor as Pontiff, sent a message to the Congress, evoking the tragedy of the Holocaust.
Religious leaders at Auschwitz to honour victims