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AUSCHWITZ LIBERATED (NEW YORK POST EDITORIAL) 01/27/05)Source: http://www.nypost.com/postopinion/editorial/21532.htm NEW YORK POST NEW YORK POST Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
January 27, 2005 -- Sixty years ago today, the Red Army liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau, most notorious of all the Nazi extermination camps. A handful of surviving inmates were freed, but some 1.5 million victims — 90 percent of them Jews — had already been murdered in gas chambers, their bodies burned in crematoria.

Auschwitz wasn´t the only Nazi death camp, of course.

In places like Treblinka and Buchenwald, millions of innocents were brutally slain. Many millions more died in those camps, and others like them, of starvation, disease and torture.

But what came to be known as the Holocaust — of which Auschwitz remains its most infamous symbol — was unique, up to then, in human history.

Adolf Hitler and his Nazis set out to wipe an entire people from the face of the Earth; to do so, they set up factories for mass murder and set their best "scientists" to work on discovering the most efficient way to kill people and to dispose of their bodies.

Some 10,000 men, women and children were murdered every single day — day after day, week after week, month after month — in Auschwitz.

And Hitler came close to succeeding in his nefarious goal: Fully one- third of the world´s pre-war Jewish population died in the gas chambers.

It is no exaggeration to say that Auschwitz today represents nothing less than the world´s largest Jewish cemetery — but with no final resting place for its victims.

For the first time in its history, the United Nations (whose founding members did little to stop the Holocaust while it was happening) commemorated the liberation of Auschwitz (ironically enough, by a regime that itself left a brutal and horrific legacy of mass murder in Ukraine and in Stalin´s gulags).

In a pointed reminder that the sentiments of generations gone have not yet receded, most Arab states — disgustingly — boycotted the ceremony.

Today, meanwhile, representatives of 40 nations — including Vice President Cheney — will gather at Auschwitz to commemorate its liberation.

Since then, the world has seen other examples of attempted genocide (a word that was coined specifically to describe the Holocaust) in places like Rwanda and Bosnia — and in Iraq, where Saddam Hussein used weapons of mass destruction in his effort to exterminate his country´s Kurds.

Much of the world (including, sadly, America) stood by as Saddam gassed his own people.

Today, however, Saddam is gone from power — thanks to the Coalition of the Willing.

In three days, the Iraqi people will go to the polls, free to choose their own leaders — and free from the threat that Saddam Hussein himself represented.

President Bush, who in 2003 visited Auschwitz, said yesterday that the lesson of the death camps is "the need for people to oppose evil wherever it exists."

Too often, the world has ignored that lesson.

In Iraq, it did not. (Copyright 2005 NYP Holdings, Inc. 01/27/05)

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