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World Leaders Attend Auschwitz Memorial (INN-ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS) 01/28/05)Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/news.php3?id=76061 INN} ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS INN} ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
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- Semitism.

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 own agendas."

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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