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World Auschwitz was liberated 75 years ago. But politics are complicating the celebration

12:30  23 january  2020
12:30  23 january  2020 Source:   latimes.com

Russia-Poland feud over history clouds Auschwitz anniversary

  Russia-Poland feud over history clouds Auschwitz anniversary WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Over the next several days, world leaders will gather twice to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the most notorious of Nazi Germany’s death camps. That there will be two competing ceremonies — one in Jerusalem on Thursday and the other at the Auschwitz site in southern Poland on Monday — underlines how politically charged World War II remains as nationalist governments in Russia and Poland .

Los Angeles Times. Auschwitz was liberated 75 years ago . In 1939, Poland was home to more Jews than any other nation in Europe. Partitioned by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union that year, Poland lost a fifth of its population in World War II; 90% of Polish Jews were killed in the Holocaust.

Seventy - five years after the liberation of the Nazi death camp Auschwitz by the Soviet Red Army, survivors from around the world 27, 1945, the Soviet Red Army liberated the Auschwitz death camp in German-occupied Poland. The Germans had already fled westward, leaving behind the bodies of

KRAKOW, Poland — In 1939, Poland was home to more Jews than any other nation in Europe. Partitioned by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union that year, Poland lost a fifth of its population in World War II; 90% of Polish Jews were killed in the Holocaust. Israel was established as a Jewish homeland in 1948, out of the ashes of that global conflagration.

a sign on the side of a building: © Somer/Abaca Press/TNS "Arbeit macht frei" sign (Labor will set you free) in Auschwitz I Nazi concentration camp, in Auschwitz, Poland, on September 3, 2017.

The two nations have enjoyed full diplomatic relations since the fall of communism in 1990. But the two countries are diverging when it comes to marking the 75th anniversary of the Soviet liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the most notorious of the Nazi German death camps, where more than 1 million Jews were murdered.

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“ Seventy - five years ago , Europe’s last ghetto, the Budapest ghetto, was liberated . At the same time, it contains joy, relief and the celebration of life.” Jews were forced to move into the ghetto, set up over more than 20 city blocks in Budapest's traditional Jewish quarter, from the end of November 1944.

Images of belongings stripped from doomed inmates in Auschwitz , Poland, reveal the horror that unfolded there as the world marks 75 years since the death camp was The day is commemorated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day worldwide. Auschwitz -Birkenau was a complex of over 40

Politics — particularly of the nationalist kind — may be to blame.

The presidents of Lithuania and Poland, which both suffered Soviet occupation and then decades of Soviet domination during the Cold War, have withdrawn from the commemoration in Israel because of the prominent role to be played by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In a keynote address, Putin is expected to offer his revisionist take on the war’s history that deemphasizes the 1939 nonaggression pact signed by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union and emphasizes the complicity of some Poles in the Holocaust.

“They want to shift the blame for unleashing World War II from the Nazis to the communists,” Putin said last month during a meeting with leaders of ex-Soviet nations in St. Petersburg, Russia, referring to officials at the European Parliament for a resolution that blamed the pact for the war. Putin called the Polish ambassador to Nazi Germany “a scum and an anti-Semite pig.” He has tried to partly blame Poland for the outbreak of the war.

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On January 27, 2020 _ 75 years after its liberation _ hundreds of survivors from across the world will come back to visit Auschwitz for the official anniversary Auschwitz is in fact not one camp, but two: Auschwitz I, built in an abandoned Polish military base, and Auschwitz II, or Birkenau, a much

Auschwitz -Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp, was liberated by the Soviet Red Army on 27 January, 1945, and the day is commemorated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. 75 years after the Nazi death camp's liberation : Haunting pictures show chilling scenes Soviet soldiers

Putin is boycotting the Polish ceremony, which will be held at the former concentration camp about an hour west of Krakow.

Poland was one of Adolf Hitler’s first victims. His armies invaded Poland in 1939 only after Germany had signed the nonaggression pact with the Soviet Union that included a secret appendix carving up Poland. The Soviet Union only entered the war against fascism in 1941, when Hitler broke the pact by invading it.

While some Poles did collaborate with Nazi occupiers, it’s also true that many Poles risked their lives to protect Jews.

“What’s going on right now with the fight over who should speak at the various ceremonies is a terrible tragedy, and an outcome of what happens when you politicize history,” said Deborah E. Lipstadt, a major scholar of the Holocaust who teaches history at Emory University.

She noted that politicization is going on by leaders in all three countries.

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  Sorrow and triumph, an Auschwitz survivor's journey back to a former hell Jona Laks could smell the burning flesh as she walked towards death at the Auschwitz crematorium. More than 75 years later, aged 90, she has returned to what was the most notorious Nazi death camp of World War Two's Jewish Holocaust."I can see it now," she says, gazing upon the crematorium where the corpses of Jews from across Europe who were murdered in gas chambers were later burned in furnaces.

Seventy - five years after Auschwitz was liberated , he met Chancellor Angela Merkel. After climbing some 60 rusty metal steps the 88-year-old arrives at the exhibition space for the Zollverein Coal Merkel again repeats her feeling of "deep shame" which she spoke of, just seven weeks ago , during

Seventy - five years after Auschwitz was liberated , Gluck is one of 75 Holocaust survivors featured in a commemorative photo project that Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial produced along with award-winning German portrait photographer Martin Schoeller. The exhibition, which opened Tuesday

In Poland, a right-wing, nationalist government tried to make referencing Polish complicity in the Holocaust a crime, punishable by up to three years in prison. After a major outcry by the United States, Israel and other nations, Poland backed down, but it still considers such references to be a civil offense.

Lipstadt also said that Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, did not do enough to push back against the Polish revisionism.

At a memorial service on Thursday at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, world leaders will be among those gathered to stand against anti-Semitism and genocide.

Much of central Jerusalem was on lockdown Wednesday as leaders arrived and Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin, the official host of the forum, began receiving guests. Israel deployed some 10,000 police officers to secure the events.

The meeting comes ahead of the official anniversary of the camp’s liberation, Jan. 27, when the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum will play host to some of the same dignitaries as well as 200 Holocaust survivors — at least a quarter of them American.

Before the Liberation of Auschwitz, a March of Misery

  Before the Liberation of Auschwitz, a March of Misery AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU, Poland — Along a desolate stretch of road in southeastern Poland, a dozen miles from Auschwitz, there is a graveyard. Candles and fresh flowers cover nearly all the marble tombs. But in the corner stands a large black marble slab separated from the rest. “Forty-two victims, women, men and children, prisoners from the Auschwitz concentration camp, who were murdered by the Nazis during the death march, and died on Jan. 18, 1945, in the village area of Miedzna were buried in a mass grave in this cemetery,” an inscription explains.

“ Seventy - five years ago , Europe’s last ghetto, the Budapest ghetto, was liberated . At the same time, it contains joy, relief and the celebration of life.” Jews were forced to move into the ghetto, set up over more than 20 city blocks in Budapest's traditional Jewish quarter, from the end of November 1944.

On Monday — 75 years after its liberation — hundreds of survivors from across the world will travel to Auschwitz for official anniversary commemorations. It is a place where Jews make pilgrimages to pay tribute to ancestors whose ashes and bones remain part of the earth. Auschwitz is in fact not

Netanyahu is in the midst of a petition for parliamentary immunity from several criminal indictments he was served last November, which he is expected to lose in a vote next week, as he runs for a fifth consecutive term as prime minister.

Elections — the third in less than a year — will be held on March 2.

Amid this political turmoil, Israel, a nation of 9 million people, is hosting a hugely elaborate event.

About 100,000 Holocaust survivors live in the country. Only 30 could be accommodated in the main ceremony at Yad Vashem, where 800 guests will attend.

Israeli media has been flooded by complaints from numerous frustrated families, who argue that survivors should have received more visibility over the big names in an unprecedented national commemoration.

In a strong symbolic gesture, Rivlin and his German counterpart, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, will travel together from Israel to Poland, where Holocaust survivors will join dozens of heads of state.

In Poland, the World Jewish Congress, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Foundation and the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum have invited survivors to assemble Monday before the “gate of death” entrance to Birkenau. Ronald Lauder, the World Jewish Congress president and chairman of the memorial foundation, will address the gathering.

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On Jan. 27, 1945, the Soviet Red Army liberated the Auschwitz death camp in German-occupied Poland. The Soviet troops also found gas chambers and crematoria that the Germans had blown up before fleeing in an attempt to hide evidence of their mass killings.

27, 1945, the Soviet Red Army liberated the Auschwitz death camp in German-occupied Poland. The Germans had already fled westward, leaving behind But the evidence of their genocide could not be covered up. Today, 75 years after the camp's liberation , the site of Auschwitz -Birkenau endures as

“This may be the last ceremony of its kind for these heroes and victims, and one of the last times they will ever be able to speak publicly about their experiences,” Lauder, a former U.S. ambassador to Austria, said in an interview. “We must bear witness for generations to come on behalf of those who will no longer be able to speak for themselves.”

Holocaust remembrances take place annually in many countries, including Israel, the United States and Poland. It’s more rare for survivors, many of whom are in their 80s and 90s, to come together across international borders.

Around 400,000 survivors are alive around the world today. In the U.S., there are about 85,000, according to the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. The Claims Conference counts fewer than 2,000 Auschwitz survivors worldwide, about a quarter of whom live in the U.S.

“Many of the survivors of the Holocaust were in their teens when they survived. People over 35 were not surviving,” said Stephen D. Smith, executive director of the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation. “As time has gone on, you have seen more people speaking out about their experiences.”

One of those people is David Lenga, 92, who was held at Auschwitz-Birkenau as a teenager and currently lives in Los Angeles. Lenga, who will attend the ceremony in Poland, said he stayed away from the former prison until four years ago, when his daughter pleaded with him to show it to her. He said he believes it is his responsibility to educate others about the Holocaust.

“I can’t imagine not being there, considering the scary rise of anti-Semitism in the world. Whatever we can do to honor the memory of the dead and living — and educate people — we will do,” Lenga said.

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Seventy - five years after the liberation of the Nazi death camp Auschwitz by the Soviet Red Army, survivors from around the world 27, 1945, the Soviet Red Army liberated the Auschwitz death camp in German-occupied Poland. The Germans had already fled westward, leaving behind the bodies of

27, 1945, the Soviet Red Army liberated the Auschwitz death camp in German-occupied Poland. The Germans had already fled westward, leaving behind But the evidence of their genocide could not be covered up. Today, 75 years after the camp's liberation , the site of Auschwitz -Birkenau endures as

Organizers of both events said the commemorations were even more urgent amid global spikes in anti-Semitism.

In the U.S., the Anti-Defamation League reported that the number of victims of anti-Semitic assaults nearly tripled in 2018 compared to the prior year, from 21 to 59. Anti-Semitic incidents overall that year were at their third-highest count in the U.S. since the ADL began keeping records four decades ago.

A Pew Research Center poll released Wednesday found that just 45% of Americans could identify the number of Jews estimated to have been killed in the Holocaust (about 6 million). The same survey found that only 43% of Americans knew that Hitler became the German chancellor via a democratic process, as opposed to gaining power through force alone.

Of the millions of Jews who died during the Holocaust, about one-sixth died at Auschwitz, where crematoriums and gas chambers were used for brutal mass executions

“It is difficult to be anywhere else on this particular day,” said Piotr Cywinski, director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum. “We all want to stand together with Auschwitz survivors living among us.”

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(Staff writer Kaleem reported from Krakow and special correspondent Tarnopolsky reported from Jerusalem.)

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©2020 Los Angeles Times

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