World marks Auschwitz liberation (BBC) 01/27/05 01:41 GMT)
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World leaders are gathering in Poland on Thursday to mark 60 years
since the liberation of Auschwitz, the most notorious of the Nazi
The heads of state of both Israel and Germany will
join those of
Russia and other countries to remember the arrival of Soviet troops
More than a million people, the vast majority of them
murdered in the Auschwitz "death factory".
Former inmates and
Red Army veterans will lead a candle-lighting
The anniversary will also be marked in Germany and
The BBC´s William Horsley notes that since its
has become a unique symbol of the evil that men are capable of, and a
warning from history.
Poems from Auschwitz
The start of
the ceremony will be signalled by a train whistle at the
Auschwitz-Birkenau site where a railway track brought hundreds of
thousands to their deaths.
Ecumenical prayers will be said as
well as the Jewish prayer for the
dead - the Kaddish - and the playing of a Jewish horn - the shofar -
will bring the ceremonies to an end
Six former inmates and
three Soviet old soldiers will light the first
candles at the main memorial there.
Following them will be
Israeli President Moshe Katsav, Russian
President Vladimir Putin and Polish President Alexander Kwasniewski.
Other world figures will include French President Jacques
Vice-President Dick Cheney and UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.
German President Horst Koehler is due to attend in Auschwitz
not speak at the main ceremony in recognition of Germany´s role as
perpetrator of the Holocaust.
In Berlin, the German parliament
will mark the anniversary with an
address by a German-Jewish camp survivor, Arno Lustiger.
poet and singer Biermann will then read out poems by a man
murdered in Auschwitz.
´Some cried, some laughed´
the Red Army men due to attend the ceremony, Yakov
Vinnichenko, told The Associated Press news agency of his
He and his comrades from the Soviet 322nd Infantry
through the barbed wire and entered the death camp.
people be tortured to make them so frail, skin and bones,
that they could hardly stand on their feet?" the Ukrainian old
The Nazis had already evacuated most of their
remaining prisoners and
the 7,000 who were left behind were "those who couldn´t move", the
"Some were crying, some were laughing."
Anatoly Shapiro, then a veteran officer, recalled for Reuters
agency the horror the camp inspired in his men before they set about
washing and feeding the survivors:
"We saw everything. The
chambers used to gas the prisoners, ovens
where the bodies were burned. We saw the piles of ash. Some of my men
approached me and said ´Major, we cannot stand this. Let´s move on´."
You can watch a BBC News special programme "Auschwitz
from 1325 on BBC Two, BBC News 24 and BBC World on Thursday. (© BBC
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