The world remembers (GUARDIAN UK) Ian Traynor in Auschwitz 01/28/05)
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White snow and black iron, white birches and black stone, white hair
and black hats of the last witnesses: Auschwitz yesterday was a
monochrome tableau drained of colour except for the brown brick of
the barracks where hundreds of thousands waited to be murdered.
Several hundred survivors and the few living liberators of the death
camp converged on the geometric expanse of barracks, furnaces,
watchtowers and barbed wire that started to give up its awful secrets
to an exhausted Europe 60 years ago.
Political leaders, royals and clergymen converged on the sprawling
complex on the flat land between the rivers Vistula and Sola in
southern Poland for the largest and last such commemoration of the
wickedness that humans can inflict on one another.
For many of those bearing witness in the heart of Europe´s darkness,
this was a final farewell and an attempt at a last act of catharsis
through private ritual, a dread-filled pilgrimage back to the
nightmare years of their youth. Survivors in their 70s and 80s came
from nearby Ukraine and faraway Venezuela, from Poland itself and
Canada, from Israel, of course, and from Britain.
Some came eagerly, determined to confront past horrors. Some were
intensely reluctant and frightened, but showed up out of a sense of
duty and also the feeling that this was some kind of last chance.
Olly Ritterband made it from Copenhagen to the black iron gates of
the death camp. Then she could go no further. "I don´t want to go
into the camp. I just can´t do it. Enough is enough," said the 81-
year-old Transylvanian Jew who survived internment at Auschwitz but
who lost 70 family members here and in other Nazi concentration
camps. (Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004
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