Hundreds of Holocaust survivors will join delegates from world governments at the Auschwitz concentration camp on the 75th anniversary of its liberation. Jewish groups urged Germany to do more to combat anti-Semitism.
Over 200 Holocaust survivors and delegates from more than 50 countries will gather at the site of the former Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau on Monday to mark the 75th anniversary of the camp’s liberation.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier met with three survivors in Berlin in the morning before travelling together to the site of the camp in Poland.
The President of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder, told DW that “speeches are not enough to stop anti-Semitism.” He blamed the internet for spreading hate against Jews, and called for greater legislation to police hate crime.
“We have to stop that. Unfortunately most governments just talk, they don’t do it,” he said.
‘Truth about the Holocaust must not die’
The commemoration will be hosted by Polish President Andrzej Duda, although the main speeches at the event will be given by Holocaust survivors.
“We must forge the future of the world based on a profound understanding of what happened more than 75 years ago in the heart of Europe, and what eyewitnesses continue to relate to us,” Duda wrote in a statement issued ahead of the event.
“The truth about the Holocaust must not die. We will not cease in our efforts to make the world remember this crime. So that nothing of the kind would ever happen again,” Duda wrote.
The ceremony will take place in front of the infamous “Gate of Death,” which victims passed through before being murdered.
Fight against anti-Semitism
Among the survivors will be representatives from the United States, Canada, Israel, Australia, and several European countries. Israeli President Reuven Revlin will also be present, less than a week after hosting the World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem, which President Steinmeier also attended.
Royalty from Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands will be in attendance, as well as a Russian delegation. The Soviet Russian Red Army liberated the camp in January 1945.
The commemoration will take place amid concerns of rising anti-Semitism in Europe and around the world.
“When you have a small infection on your finger, you do not wait until your entire hand has gangrene to fight the infection. The same is true for anti-Semitism,” Poland’s chief rabbi Michael Schudrich said ahead of the ceremony.
More than 1 million people, most of them Jews, were murdered at the camp in Nazi-occupied Poland before it was liberated in January 1945.