Auschwitz Survivors Mark Holocaust Remembrance Day

Auschwitz survivors and Israeli officials marked 69 years since the liberation of the Nazi death camp on Monday. A ceremony was held at the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day was established by the United nations in memory of some six million Holocaust victims. According to ABC News, close to 1.5 million victims were from Auschwitz.

During the remembrance ceremony at Birkenau, also known as Auschwitz II, 20 or so survivors reportedly walked though the gate which reads, "Arbeit Macht Frei" (Work Makes You Free), and placed a wreath at the former camp's Executions Walls.

ABC News reported that around 60 members of the Knesset, "or half of the Israeli legislature," joined the survivors for the observances that included visits to the red brick Auschwitz barracks "which housed a collection of the victims' belongings and hair, and a list of the names of some 4.2 million Jews who perished in the Holocaust."

During a special ceremony in Auschwits II, survivors and others who attended, got to hear from Noah Klieger, a survivor who talked about the Death March. He spoke on how 15,000 victims died after "Nazis fleeing the advancing Soviet army in January 1945 forced inmates still able to walk to march west in freezing weather." The ceremony also remembered the day when the Red Army entered the Auschwits camp to free any remaining victims who ABC News said were mainly children and the sick.

Here in the US, President Obama reportedly urged the nation to remember the victims on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. According to USA Today, the president acknowledged in a statement that January 27 is the day on which Auschwitz was liberated 69 years ago.

"Each year on this day the world comes together to commemorate a barbaric crime unique in human history," Obama said in a statement. "We recall six million Jews and millions of other innocent victims who were murdered in Nazi death camps. We mourn lives cut short and communities torn apart."
Obama continued on to say that people should condemn "any attempts to deny the occurrence of the Holocaust," and "doing our part to ensure that survivors receive some measure of justice and the support they need to live out their lives in dignity."

The President's final statement, which read, "May God bless the memory of the millions, and may God grant us the strength and courage to make real our solemn vow: Never forget. Never again," is a statement that rang true for many on Monday as they remembered not only the liberation of Auschwitz, but of the millions who lost their lives and those who survived the horrors of the Holocaust.

[Image by Logaritmo via Wikimedia Commons]