75th anniversary of Auschwitz camp’s liberation observed

28 Jan 2020

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Oswiecim (Poland): An illuminated watch tower near the barbed wire fence enclosing the memorial site of the Auschwitz camp during ceremonies to commemorate the 75th anniversary of its liberation.—AFP
Oswiecim (Poland): An illuminated watch tower near the barbed wire fence enclosing the memorial site of the Auschwitz camp during ceremonies to commemorate the 75th anniversary of its liberation.—AFP

WARSAW: The world marked the 75th anniversary on Monday of the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops on January 27, 1945.

Part of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler’s “Final Solution” plan for genocide against European Jews, the camp operated in the occupied southern Polish town of Oswiecim between June 1940 and January 1945.

Of the more than 1.3 million people imprisoned there, 1.1 million — mainly Jews —perished, either asphyxiated in the gas chambers or from starvation, exhaustion and disease.

Studies show that anti-Semitic sentiment persists, especially in Europe, despite the scale of the Nazi atrocities, the powerful testimony of survivors and the number of films, books and exhibitions chronicling the Holocaust.

A 2019 survey by the US-based Anti-Defamation League showed that about one in four Europeans harbour “pernicious and pervasive” attitudes towards Jews, compared with 19 percent of North Americans.

In Germany, 42 percent agreed that “Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust”, it said. Two people were killed in a shooting near a synagogue in eastern Germany in October, in what officials called an anti-Semitic attack.

Despite the joint message on anti-Semitism, Monday’s event highlighted tensions between Poland and Israel over Holocaust remembrance.

Published in Dawn, January 28th, 2020