January 27, 2013 marked the 68th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest and most well-known of all Nazi concentration and extermination camps, located in Poland. A small ceremony was held at the Auschwitz-Birkenau state museum in which survivors and camp liberators were invited to attend, according to the JTA.
“When our soldiers saw the first group of prisoners, they were afraid to even approach them. They didn’t look like people,” said Iwan Martynuszkin, who took part in Auschwitz’s liberation 68 years prior.”
As Hitler’s personally selected site for the mass murder of Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, Communists, the mentally ill, and the disabled as well as any other deemed “enemies” of the Third Reich, well over 1 million people were killed or died at Auschwitz, primarily Jews.
Primarily a death camp, a small percentage of those inmates deported to Auschwitz were selected for hard labor and near starvation or the horrific medical experiments of “The Angel of Death,” Dr. Joseph Mengele. Although the number is sometimes debated, it is estimated that 11 million people were killed during the Holocaust, with 6 million of those Jews.
The ceremony also included speeches from former Auschwitz survivors, liberators, and the Israeli ambassador to Poland. During the second part of the ceremony, Rabbis and Clergymen read psalms and placed candles at the Monument to the Victims of the Camp at the Auschwitz II-Birkenau site.
Also to coincide with the International Holocaust Day and the liberation of Auschwitz, the European Jewish Parliament met in Krakow, Poland for its General Assembly meeting to discuss the rise of Antisemitism in Eastern Europe. The committee discussed the rise in Antisemitism and radical right wing parties in Europe.
In 2009, the infamous Arbeit Macht Frei sign, or “Work Sets You Free” wrought iron sign to Auschwitz was stolen, sparking an international outcry. The sign was recovered only a few days later by Polish police. The sign, which was cut into three pieces, is now safely on display in the Auschwitz museum. It was replaced with a replica at the entrance.
Auschwitz Marks 68 Years Of Liberation [Video]
[Image 1: Israel Arbeitar]
[Image 2: Auschwitz-Birkenau state museum]
[Image 3: Yad Vashem]
[Image 4: History.com]