World Leaders Attend Auschwitz Memorial (INN-ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS) 01/28/05)
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Dozens of world leaders took part in a memorial observance Thursday
marking 60 years since the liberation of the infamous Auschwitz-
Birkenau death camp.
The ceremony took place outside in bitter cold at the camp itself,
located near Krakow in southern Poland. Over 1,000 Holocaust
survivors had been invited, among the 10,000 guests in attendance.
Among the survivors was former Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Yisrael
Meir Lau, who recited Kaddish in memory of the dead. World-renowned
cantor Joseph Malovany of New York sang the El Malei Rachamim prayer
for the souls of the martyred.
Addressing the memorial, President Moshe Katsav called on European
nations to increase efforts to educate their young against anti-
Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed embarrassment over the
rise in anti-Semitism in his country, even as he pointed out that it
was Russian forces that liberated the death camp. Russian Chief Rabbi
Berel Lazar, who also spoke of the Soviet Union´s role in liberating
the inmates of Auschwitz, presented Mr. Putin with a medal as a
symbol of gratitude to the Russian people.
At a press conference ahead of the ceremony, Rabbi Lazar reminded
journalists that Nazi-like threats still exist: "Terrorists want to
conquer the whole world just like the Nazis. They also eliminate
anyone who disagrees with them, twisting any ideology to hide their
Also in attendance were presidents Jacques Chirac of France, Horst
Koehler of Germany, Vaira Vike-Freiberga of Latvia Aleksander
Kwasniewski of Poland. Pope John Paul II´s special envoy, French
Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, who was born Jewish, also spoke briefly
along with representatives of other Christian sects. Speakers
representing the Polish and Gypsy victims of the Nazis also addressed
the gathered assembly. US Vice-President Dick Cheney spoke at an
earlier ceremony in a theater in Krakow, alongside President Putin
and President Katsav.
Not all Europeans feel a need to commemorate, however. In Germany
last week, representatives of the far-right National Democratic Party
(NPD) walked out of minute´s silence for Nazi victims and referred to
Allied strikes on Germany during World War II as a "bombing
holocaust." A survey of German public opinion last week, published in
Stern magazine, found that 74% of Germans reject feelings of guilt
over the crimes of WWII.
Meanwhile, in the Arab world - whose representatives boycotted a
United Nations session on the Holocaust this week - the Egyptian
newspaper Al-Ahram Al-Messa´i commented on what it called
Israel´s "investment" in "the so-called Holocaust." The newspaper
complained that, in hosting the memorial session, "the UN adopted the
Israeli standpoint, paying no heed to the sufferings of the
Palestinians under the Israeli occupation."
On the contrary, the newspaper editorialized, "commemorating the
Holocaust requires opening the issue of the daily Israeli violations
against the Palestinians...." The Egyptian editors believe that the
UN session on the Holocaust is a sign that "UN protection [is]
confined to the Jewish minority only." (IsraelNationalNews © 01/28/05)
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