More than one million people, mostly European Jews were gassed, shot or hanged at Auschwitz.
On World Holocaust Day, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo paid homage to the victims of the Nazi death camp.
Surrounded by some of the last survivors, she said “memory and truth are our responsibility, they are our weapons against evil.”
She added that the suffering of the victims was a ‘wound that can never be healed and should never be forgotten’, a sentiment echoed by one of the survivors:
“I constantly cry, constantly, because our psyche was mutilated, because we were camp children. Although I was not in Auschwitz but in the camp in Lodz. They called it ‘small Auschwitz’ for Polish youth and children. There were such (harsh) rigors and the procedures were so cruel towards us,” said Krystyna Szpigiel.
On January 27, 1945 the Soviet Red Army liberated the Auschwitz camp. In 1996 the German president marked it as a day to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust.
Every year the Germany parliament marks Holocaust day, but this year they paid homage to the more than 300,000 people murdered in Nazi euthanasia programmes. At a time of rising anti-semitism in Europe, the president of the parliament said, ‘Barbarism of language is barbarism of the spirit. Words became deeds.”
Marking Holocaust Memorial Day in the Vatican, a representative of the Holy See urged vigilance, saying that ‘Cruelty did not end at Auschwitz …As such cruelty is still around today,’ adding there is no place for intolerance towards any individual or people.
On Twitter many marked the day with warnings over the current climate and rhetoric in different countries around the world.
The UK which last year voted to leave the EU, has seen a surge in hate crimes. MP Jo Cox was murdered on the referendum campaign trail by a man who witnesses heard shout ‘Britain first’ multiple times. Thomas Alexander “Tommy” Mair was convicted of her murder in June 2016, and had established links to far-right groups.
On Holocaust Memorial Day, let us pledge to fight back against the rise of hatred and fascism, such as we now see in the UK and USA.— Paul Morgan (@drpaulmorgan) January 27, 2017
The phrase ‘America first’ was uttered by the new president of the United States during his inauguration last week. Huge protests have followed his rise to power with activists incensed over Donald Trump’s rhetoric and now actions.
In the last week Trump has made plans to tighten vetting of immigrants and visitors, build a wall on the southern border with Mexico, and has stopped funding to sanctuary cities.