60 years of pain (NEW YORK DAILYNEWS) BY ELLEN TUMPOSKY in Krakow, Poland and CORKY SIEMASZKO in New York 01/28/05)
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
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A whistle from a phantom train echoed across the Nazis´ biggest
killing ground yesterday and signaled the start of a solemn ceremony
marking the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
Standing in the snow on the spot where cattle cars packed with Jews
bound for the gas chambers were unloaded, world leaders listened to a
recording of an arriving train before lighting candles for the 1.5
"It seems as if we can still hear the dead crying out," Israeli
President Moshe Katsav said. "When I walk the ground of the
concentration camps, I fear that I am walking on the ashes of the
Braving bitter cold, 1,000 Auschwitz survivors returned to the barbed
wire fences that held them, the brick barracks that housed them, the
ruined crematoriums where the bodies of their loved ones were burned -
and they remembered.
"I had to see it again," said Asya Shindelman, 75, of Jackson
Heights, Queens, a survivor of the Stutthoff death camp whose
grandmother perished at Auschwitz. "I can never, never, never forget
what they did to us only because we were Jewish."
Kazimierz Orlowski, 84, a Polish survivor of Auschwitz, said the
torture started when the guards made them don striped uniforms with
material as thin as pajamas. "The snow was falling like today, we
were dressed in stripes, and some of us had bare feet," he said.
Vice President Cheney was one of 30 world leaders who bowed their
heads as Cantor Joseph Malovany of Manhattan´s Fifth Avenue Synagogue
sang kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead. "The story of the camp
reminds us that evil is real," Cheney said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who condemned the anti-Semitism
plaguing his country at an earlier ceremony, compared the Nazis to
terrorists. "It is equally cruel, it has already claimed thousands of
innocent lives," he said.
German President Horst Koehler also lit a candle. But in recognition
of his country´s responsibility for the Holocaust, he did not speak.
Most of the prisoners at Auschwitz were Jews, but there were also
thousands of Poles, gays, Gypsies and Soviet POWs such as the father
of newly elected Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko.
Most of those who passed through Auschwitz went straight to the gas
chambers. The lucky ones were stripped, shaved, branded with tattoos
and sentenced to slave labor.
Shivering in blankets handed out by girl scouts, the now elderly
survivors stood beside the railroad tracks that brought them to die
at the camp and marveled they were still alive.
"I never imagined I would survive Hitler or survive World War II,"
former Polish Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski told fellow
survivors. (© 2005 Daily News, L.P. 01/28/05)
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