75 years after Auschwitz liberation, growing anti-Semitism warnings mark Holocaust Day

(Photo: REUTERS / Kacper Pempel)A visitor walks between electric barbed-wired fences at the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial and former concentration camp November 18, 2013.

Auschwitz-Birkenau was a place of evil in Nazi-occupied Poland where around 1.1 million people, mostly Jews, were murdered in the name of an ideology of hatred.

Seventy-five years after Soviet troops liberated the camps, holocaust survivors and international leaders honouring victims of the Nazis at the former Auschwitz death camp, at a time of that the world is fighting a resurgent anti-Semitism.

The presidents of Israel and Poland - Reuven Rivlin and Andrzej Duda - laid wreaths together at the former camp.

"The industrial mass murder of six million Jews, the worst crime in the history of humanity, it was committed by my countrymen," German president Frank Walter Steinmeier had told 40 statesmen at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Israel, on Jan. 23.

At Auschwitz, Rivlin warned of "voices which spread hate" and threaten democracy, the BBC reported.

"Our duty is to fight anti-Semitism, racism and fascist nostalgia - those sick evils," he said.

He and President Duda laid wreaths at the Death Wall, where the Nazis shot thousands of prisoners.

Auschwitz-Birkenau was a vast camp complex and was the Nazi regime's most notorious killing centre.

Thousands of Poles, Soviet prisoners of war, Gypsies (Roma) and other persecuted groups also died there.

About six million Jews were murdered in Nazi's Germany's campaign to control other races and nations.


"Our solidarity in the face of hatred is needed today more than ever, as we see a deeply worrying resurgence in antisemitic attacks around the world, and almost unbelievable, also around us here in New York," said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

He said New York saw a 21 percent rise in antisemitic hate crimes in 2019, part of a trend in cities across the United States.

"But, the situation for Jews in Europe is, if anything, worse," he rued.

France saw a 74 percent increase in antisemitic attacks in 2018. In the United Kingdom, they rose by 16 percent to a record high.

"Neo-Nazis and white supremacists are resurgent, organizing themselves and spreading their poisonous ideology and iconography online.

"The internet, from social media to online gaming platforms and the dark web, is their playground and their recruiting office. They manipulate video content and poison young minds."

In Geneva, the World Council of Churches joined in solemn commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

WCC moderator Dr. Agnes Abuom and general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit jointly reflected on the role this "full revelation of the extremity of human evil" has played as a driver for the drafting and adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The noted present-day resurgence of anti-Semitic attacks in recent years.

They stated, "We are alarmed at the dramatic increase in antisemitic rhetoric and incidents that has been reported in many countries, and at the pernicious persistence of Holocaust denial, especially online."

"WCC and its member churches cherish their relations with Jewish partners in dialogue and collaborative action, and reaffirm our commitment to working with Jewish partner organizations and communities."

They said this must be done to "counter the current trend towards 'normalization of hatred' against 'the other' in many parts of the world," say the two in their comment, noting ongoing efforts together with the International Jewish Committee for Inter-religious Consultations (IJCIC) to explore ways in which such joint efforts can be strengthened and implemented.

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