Leaders pledge no repeat of Holocaust (JERUSALEM POST) By DAVID HOROVITZ KRAKOW, POLAND 01/27/05)
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President Moshe Katsav delivered a blistering attack on Thursday on
the failure of the Allied forces to bomb Auschwitz and the railroad
leading to it in the final months of WWII, at a time when hundreds of
thousands of Jewish lives could still have been saved.
Speaking at a ceremony in Krakow´s main theater shortly before
traveling to Auschwitz-Birkenau, Katsav said, "sixty years later we
still find it hard to believe that the world stood silent" as the
killing went on. "The allies did not do enough to stop the
Holocaust," he said, "To stop the destruction of Jewish people. The
gates of countries around the world, the gates to Israel, were kept
closed in the face of those who tried to escape."
"The Allies knew about the destruction of the Jews and didn´t act to
stop it," the president said. "Hundreds of thousands could have been
saved." Katsav noted that air sorties passed next to Auschwitz-
Birkenau, "but Auschwitz was not bombed bombing the railways would
have prevented the destruction of the Jews. The Germans knew that
they were going to lose, but they continued, even accelerated, the
destruction of the Jews,´ Katsav said, and the Allies did not stop
Looking to the future, Katsav said that he had confidence in Europe´s
leaders and their common values with Israel, in the determined,
concerted effort to prevent humankind from committing such
destruction again. He called the Holocaust "a failure of humanity as
a whole" and urged, with respect to Auschwitz that "a better future
must grow out of this damned place."
He noted that the Nazis capitalized on anti-Semitism that was already
rooted in Europe and said he had concern about the distorted
sentiments held by European youngsters.
Speaking at the same event, US Vice President Richard Cheney noted
that in the death camps of Europe some of the greatest crimes the
human mind can conceive were committed.
He praised the heroism "among the helpless," and spoke of the
righteous Jews who were "led to their deaths affirming to the end
their faith in almighty God."
While the scale of killing was unthinkable, Cheney said it was
crucial to remember that each victim had a name, a home, and hopes
for the future. Each was an individual who "no man had any right to
The mass murder, said the Vice President, took place moreover "in the
very heart of the civilized world." The death camps were created by
men "with high opinions of themselves, refined manners, but no
The lesson of Auschwitz, said Cheney, is that evil is real and must
be confronted and that messages of intolerance and hatred must be
opposed before they turn into acts of horror.
He said he sought God´s help "to recognize evil in all its forms" so
that it could never rise again.
Earlier Thursday, Katsav met with Cheney for talks that focused on
new opportunities vis- -vis the Palestinians and ways to confront the
efforts by Middle East states to attain weapons of mass destruction.
Speaking earlier, the Ukraine´s President Viktor Yushchenko pledged
that there would "never again be a single ´Jewish Question´ in my
country. I vow that." He said he wanted his people and the world to
know that "the tragedy of the past will never again be repeated on
the soil of the Ukraine."
He noted that his own father had been imprisoned at Auschwitz and had
told him as a child of the terrible killings of those whose only
crime was that they were Jewish. He had felt pain throughout his own
life because of his father´s stories, the Ukrainian president said,
and he wanted his whole country to feel it, because only the
pain "will give us the strength and wisdom to make sure that the
doors to Hell are closed."
Poland´s President Aleksander Kwasniewski, the initiator of the 60th
anniversary event, began his address with words of praise for Israel
as represented by Katsav, "a state built by a nation that survived
He said he was confident of the desire of "nearly all mankind for
evil never again to prevail on such a scale, never for any Auschwitz
to happen again."
But he stressed that it was "only in a world that learns proper
lessons from history" that such crimes could be prevented and that it
was incumbent on the international community to build a future free
of racism and xenophobia.
"The lessons of Nazi crimes still remain to be fully grasped by all
humanity," he said.
He said he was not just mouthing slogans but that Poland, Israel and
others were engaged in a variety of initiatives to bolster Holocaust
education and that "a safe world could be the most wonderful tribute
to all those who perished at Auschwitz-Birkenau."
Later, in a brief conversation with The Jerusalem post, Kwasniewski
said he still considered anti-Semitism to be a problem in Poland,
although "no different" from that in other European countries.
Asked whether Poland had now properly confronted its role in the
Holocaust, he said Poland regarded anti-Semitism and the Holocaust as
a Polish national tragedy, because so much of Poland´s own Jewish
community was wiped out. "It is our national tragedy," he said. "We
lost a lot of Polish citizens – intellectuals, professors, doctors."
The ongoing battle against anti-Semitism was a critical issue, he
said, "for all serious people. Not for stupid people," he added, "who
are only interested in money and women."
The ceremony at the theater also included a video message from Major
Anatoly Shapiro, the commander of the Soviet Red Army Forces, which
liberated Auschwitz in 1945, who urged concerted international action
to ensure no repeat Holocaust.
Elie Weisel, speaking at the Krakow event, recalled his incredulity
on arrival at the camp to learn that the Jews "were being sent to the
flames and that the world was silent."
He told world leaders and young people in the audience, "if you walk
away [from these remembrance ceremonies] the same, then we have lost.
We have to put an end to the curse of hatred, to the scourge of anti-
Semitism," he said.
"Hatred is a cancer. It goes from limb to limb, from person to
person, from group to group."
Weisel said that "logically," in 1945, the Jewish people could have
had "a collective nervous breakdown." But rather incredibly, the Jews
were moved to action, to be "more active, energetic, and committed."
(© 1995-2005, The Jerusalem Post 01/27/05)
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