Auschwitz survivors warn of rising anti-Semitism 75 years on
Survivors carry a wreath as they arrive to attend a ceremony at the ‘death wall’ at the former Nazi German concentration and extermination camp, Auschwitz [Aleksandra Szmigiel/Reuters]
Survivors of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp gathered on Monday for commemorations marking the 75th anniversary of its liberation, returning to the place where they lost entire families, and warning about the ominous growth of anti-Semitism and hatred in the world.
In all, some 200 survivors of the camp were expected, many of them elderly Jews and non-Jews who have travelled from Israel, the United States, Australia, Peru, Russia, Slovenia and elsewhere.
Many lost parents and grandparents in Auschwitz or other Nazi death camps, but were being joined by children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren.
“We would like that the next generation to know what we went through and it should never happen again,” said 91-year-old David Marks, his voice cracking. He lost 35 members of his immediate and extended family after they all arrived in Auschwitz from their village in Romania.
“A dictator doesn’t come up from one day to the other,” Marks said, saying it happens in “micro-steps”.
“If we don’t watch it, one day you wake up and it’s too late,” he added.
Most of the 1.1 million people murdered by the Nazi German forces at the camp were Jewish, but other Poles, Russians and Roma were imprisoned there. Some of the Polish survivors walked with Polish President Andrzej Duda through the camp’s gate on Monday wearing striped scarves that recalled the prison garb they wore more than 75 years ago.
Auschwitz was liberated by the Soviet army on January 27, 1945.