Auschwitz’s last survivors urged the world not to forget the horrors of the Holocaust as they marked the 70th anniversary of the Nazi death camp’s liberation.
Some 300 of them returned for the ceremony in Poland along with world leaders – paying their respects to the 1.1 million people, mainly Jews who died there.
And from memories of the past came warnings for a modern world. Jews have become alarmed at a growing under-current of anti-Semitism, fuelled by anger at Israeli policy in the Middle East, social tensions over immigration and economic hardship brought on by austerity. Some or all appear to have contributed to a rise of far-right political movements.
Speaker Ronald Lauder said:
“I cannot ignore what is happening today. Jews are targeted in Europe once again, because they are Jews.”
Roman Kent, an Auschwitz survivor added: “We do not want our past to be our children’s future.”
It had been a day of deep felt emotion, symbolic gestures and much reflection. At night fall candles were lit – some at the Death Wall where prisoners had been executed – flickering lights emerging from a time of darkness.