Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Auschwitz Sixty Years Later

Tomorrow marks the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by the Soviet Army near the end of World War II. To commemorate the event, a large number of Auschwitz survivors and current world leaders will convene at the camp--the most notorious of the Nazi death camps--for a memorial ceremony. Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel (an Auschwitz survivor) is scheduled to speak.

Representing the United States will be Vice President Dick Cheney and all of the living former presidents: Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush, and Jimmy Carter. Thirty heads of state--including the presidents of Israel, Germany, France, and Russia--will attend. Viktor Yushchenko, Ukraine's newly inaugurated president, will also be present. His father was imprisoned at Auschwitz during World War II.

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, referring to the dwindling numbers of Holocaust survivors, said yesterday at the United Nations that "we are on the brink of that moment when this terrible event will change--from memory to history."

The Guardian (London) provides a number of excellent stories on the Holocaust and current remembrances here. Included is an account by Yakov Vinnichenko, one of five surviving soldiers from the Soviet force that liberated Auschwitz, of the day the Red Army entered the camp.