Auschwitz Memorial Day was once again marked as peace shattered by war. WGN Radio 720

OSWIECIM, Poland (AP) — As the horrors of war once again shatter peace in Europe, survivors of Auschwitz-Birkenau follow the liberation of Nazi Germany’s death camps in the final months of World War II. We are gathering on Friday to mark our 78th anniversary.

A former concentration camp and extermination camp in the town of Oświęcim in southern Poland, occupied by German forces during World War II, targeted Jews, Poles, Soviet prisoners of war, Roma and others. It became a place where they were systematically murdered for elimination by Adolf Hitler and his minions.


Today, with the ruins of barracks, barbed wire and gas chambers, the site is one of the world’s most famous symbols of evil and a place of pilgrimage for millions of people who have been pilgrimages to the “never again.” It stands as an admonition not to.

But just 300 kilometers (185 miles) from Ukraine, a Russian invasion has wreaked unimaginable death and destruction. This is a conflict in the minds of many who pay tribute to the victims of 80 years ago.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the camp’s liberation in 2005.

According to the Auschwitz-Birkenau National Museum, no Russian officials were invited this year because of Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

Pole Bogdan Bartnikovsky, who was 12 years old when he was deported to Auschwitz, said he was traumatized by the images he saw on television last February of refugees fleeing Ukraine after the all-out Russian invasion of Ukraine. said to have evoked the memory of

He was stunned to see a little girl in a crowd of refugees holding her mother in one hand and a teddy bear in the other.

“It was literally a blow to the head because I suddenly saw for the first time in almost 80 years what I had seen on the freight train when it was being transported to Auschwitz. ,” said Bartnikowski, now 91.

Bartnikowski was one of several Auschwitz survivors who told journalists about their experiences on the eve of Friday’s memorial service.

Another, Stefania Wernik, born in November 1944, three months before the liberation of Auschwitz, said Auschwitz was “hell on earth”.

She said she was so tiny when she was born that the Nazis tattooed her number, 89136, on her thigh. She was washed in cold water, wrapped in rags and subjected to medical experiments.

Still, the mother’s milk was plentiful and both survived. After the war, when her mother returned to her parents’ home and was reunited with her husband, she said, “Everyone in the village came to see it and said it was a miracle.”

She read a message calling on the next generation to be wary of insidious ideologies.

“No more fascism that brings death, genocide, crime, genocide and loss of human dignity,” she said.

Among those expected to attend the memorial service on Friday is Doug Emhoff, the husband of US Vice President Kamala Harris.

The Germans established Auschwitz in 1940 for Polish prisoners. They then expanded the complex and built a death chamber and a crematorium. There, Jews from all over Europe were murdered on trains.

Elsewhere in the world, events were scheduled for Friday to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the annual anniversary enacted by a 2005 United Nations resolution.

About 6 million European Jews were killed in the Holocaust, and millions more in the World Wars that lasted from 1939 to 1945. Auschwitz Memorial Day was once again marked as peace shattered by war. WGN Radio 720

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