Address by Pres Katsav at the 60th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz (MFA-MINISTRY FOREIGN AFFAIRS) 01/27/05)
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We have come today to Birkenau to commemorate the millions who were
murdered in Auschwitz and throughout Europe and to give honor to the
victims and the survivors of the Shoah. I wish to thank the President
of Poland, Mr. Aleksander Kwasniewski, for his invitation to the
event marking the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
I wish to thank the Allies - the Red Army, which liberated Auschwitz,
the United States of America, which sent its army to Europe to
liberate its peoples, Great Britain whose courage, served as an
example of heroic determination, the undergrounds in occupied Europe
and the one and a half million Jewish fighters, who fought against
the Nazi menace.
Excellencies, Heads of State,
The mind of man refuses to grasp the great horror, which took place
inside these fences. Auschwitz-Birkenau is the most horrendous crime
scene in the history of humanity. Birkenau is the largest graveyard
of the Jewish people. Here we are witness to the remnants of the gas
chambers and the crematoria.
We see the barrracks, the fences, the guard towers, the final station
of the railway tracks, which brought the condemned from the far
corners of Europe to the burning ovens. It seems as if we can still
hear the dead crying out.
Thousands of people, trembling from terror, pouring out from the
train wagons by a satanic plan of modern technology. Day and night
and with unfailing precision, the Germans conducted a genocide
industry, a killing factory for the murder of our people in Europe.
This happened in Auschwitz-Birkenau, the capital of the death empire.
It happened in Maidenek, in Treblinka, Sobibor, Chelmno, Belzec and
many other sites of mass murder.
When I step on the earth of the death camps, awe and trembling seize
me lest I tread on the ashes of the victims in Europeís soil. I fear
lest the water running in Europeís rivers carries in it the blood of
the Shoah dead.
Here in the heart of Auschwitz-Birkenau, a scream seeks to burst from
the depth of our soul and yet there is a spark of pride. The Jewish
people have arisen from the death camps ashes, as a brand snatched
from the burning fire. We have returned to our homeland.
Three hours flight from here, we have re-established our homeland,
but not in time to shelter those who were murdered here. We are a
determined and proud nation, which looks forward with great hope. Our
strong ties with the nations whose heads are standing here today are
a symbol of solace and a foundation of our security.
The Jewish people survived the destruction, suffering, exiles,
expulsions and the greatest tragedy - the Shoah. Despite it all, we
have returned to our homeland and we have built a modern, developed,
democratic state, which has ingathered the Jewish people from the
four corners of the earth. In all of human history, there has been no
My brothers and sisters, the martyrs of the Shoah, who were not able
to join the State of Israel, world leaders have come to this place,
which was your hell, in order to remember you. You are the lost
citizens of our homeland.
Excellencies, Kings, Queens and Presidents, leaders of European
states, in Auschwitz-Birkenau more than one million Jews were
slaughtered, all of them were sons and daughter of your lands,
citizens of your countries.
We know that Europe was a land occupied by the German Nazi regime.
But we also remember that in European countries there was rabid anti-
Semitism, which left the Jews with no escape and without hope. The
anti-Semitism was based on racism and hatred.
In Europe, the heart of civilization, a nation rose up against
another nation, to annihilate it and wipe it off the face of the
earth. The destruction was the work of a people which produced
renowned scientists, musicians and philosophers. A multitude of
nations knew of the murder but were indifferent.
The world knew about the destruction of the European Jewry but
Opposition and hesitation of the Allies to bomb the death camps and
to destroy the railways carrying the Jews to them, claimed more
victims from our people, and this too remains a mark on the forehead
Sixty years after the Shoah we witness a re-emergence of anti-
Semitism in Europe. Is it possible that the deterrent power of the
Shoah has weakened? The answer is in the hands of Europeís leaders.
It is in the hands of the educators and the historians. It is in our
On this day, on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-
Birkenau, we feel closer than ever to the victims and the survivors.
On this day we are closer to human heritage, to mankindís morality,
to the Divine command.
The victory over Nazism is the victory of humanityís values. It is
the victory of morality and faith in mankind.
Beyond all differences of opinion, we are united in our memory of the
horror and we share the moral lesson. We, the Jewish people are bound
by history to commemorate the Shoah and to light it with an eternal
flame. This is demanded of us by our brothers and sisters, the
victims of the Shoah, from their graves, from the killing pits, from
the gas chambers and from the trains.
Humanity must pass on the awareness, the knowledge, the uniqueness
and the lessons of the Holocaust from one generation to another.
World leaders must be aware that dangerous doctrines can again emerge
in the world, false doctrines which are based on ignorance, on
brainwashing, on incitement and hatred, on blindness, on deceit and
falsification, on coercion and on base instincts, on the exploitation
of democracy to achieve dictatorship, on terrorism and bloodshed, on
crematoria and fire, on murderous fanaticism.
The world leadership is responsible for the fate of humanity. We
ought not place our hope in mankindís resilience.
Human progress and technology do not ensure the prevention of
totalitarianism and may be used by tyranny to achieve its goals. We
have seen that thinkers and philosophers, great musicians and
composers, scientists and doctors can place themselves at the
disposal of despotic rulers and become partners to ruin, destruction
and bloodshed. This is what happened in the Shoah.
I wish to honor the exceptional persons, members of the Polish people
and other nations, the Righteous Among the Nations, who felt the pain
of the persecuted, who provided shelter and thereby risked their
Dear survivors, we commend you for returning to life, for daring
again to feel that you belong to the world, for finding the inner
strength to again raise families, for again believing in man.
May the memory of the victims be blessed. (Copyright ©2004 The State
of Israel. 01/27/05)
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