Poland, January 28: Dozens of elderly Holocaust survivors lit candles at Auschwitz on Wednesday, exactly 71 years after the Soviet army liberated the death camp that has become the most powerful symbol of the human suffering inflicted by Nazi Germany during World War II.
The commemoration at the former death camp in southern Poland, an area under Nazi occupation during the war, is part of the UN-designated International Remembrance Day, marked by politicians, survivors and others in ceremonies and events across the world.
At Auschwitz some of the survivors wore sashes or scarves that recalled the striped pajama-style clothing that prisoners were forced to wear. They placed candles and wreaths at a wall where many prisoners were executed before gathering with the presidents of Poland and Croatia for official ceremonies.
The Nazis killed more than 1 million people at Auschwitz, most of them Jews but also Roma, non-Jewish Poles and others.
This year’s commemorations come as a resurgence of anti-Semitism casts a shadow over a new generation of European Jews, something that is driving thousands of them each year to leave the continent.
“We must be honest enough to admit that more than 70 years after the Shoah, anti-Semitism is still alive in our ‘civilized’ European Union,” Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s top foreign affairs representative, said in a statement.
Jewish immigration to Israel from Western Europe grew last year due to a rise in anti-Semitic attacks. Most nearly 8,000 were from France, where Islamic extremist attacks have destroyed the sense of security previously felt by Europe’s largest Jewish population.