70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz

70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz


The Guardian (UK)

Almost 300 survivors of the Nazi German concentration and extermination camps at Auschwitz gather on Tuesday to mark the 70th anniversary of their liberation, in what for many will be the last such commemoration.

The ceremony will take place in front of the imposing Death Gate at Auschwitz-Birkenau in the presence of heads of state and royalty, starting at precisely the moment when the first Red Army tanks entered the camp in Nazi-German-occupied Poland on 27 January 1945. With most survivors now in their 80s and 90s, this marks the last big anniversary that many will be able to attend. “This is the last time we’ll have such a prominent survivor presence, so we’ve made a special effort to get them here,” Ronald Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress, which is bringing 100 of the survivors, told the Guardian. “Many of them will no longer be with us for the 75th.”

Ten years ago, 1,500 survivors attended for the 60th anniversary commemorations. Even in the days and weeks running up to this year’s anniversary the number of survivors due to attend from 19 countries, has dropped, with some having died and others cancelling due to ill health.

The filmmaker Steven Spielberg – who is credited with having brought the story of the Holocaust to a far wider audience with his 1993 picture Schindler’s List and whose Shoah Foundation has collected the testimony of 53,000 Holocaust witnesses – told an audience of survivors gathered at a Cracow hotel on Monday evening that the “call to remember” was increasingly important at a time of rising anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.
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