Holocaust Remembrance Day

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International Holocaust Remembrance Day is today.

It is a worldwide commemoration of the victims of the Holocaust and a call to never forget the atrocities that took place. On January 27, 1945, Auschwitz was liberated by Soviet troops.

Auschwitz survivors, Soviet veterans and leaders including Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu gathered today for emotionally – charged ceremonies.

US President Barack Obama spoke of the “sacred duty to remember the cruelty” of Auschwitz and of “resisting anti-Semitism and ignorance in all its forms” in a video address aired at a forum organised by the European Jewish Congress (EJC) in Krakow, southern Poland, ahead of official afternoon ceremonies at the Auschwitz site.

“Auschwitz is the symbol of absolute evil that remains seared on the human conscience,” French President Nicolas Sarkozy wrote in a message to Polish and European Jewish leaders

A total of 1.1 million people perished at Auschwitz-Birkenau — one million of them Jews from across occupied Europe – mostly killed in gas chambers but also from shooting, hanging, starvation, disease, slave labour and pseudomedical experiments.

In addition to Jews, and 70-75,000 non-Jewish Poles, the Nazis killed 21,000 Roma there, 15,000 Soviet POWs and 10-15,000 others, including resistance members arrested across Europe, according to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum.

There were only around 7,000 survivors in the camp at the liberation. The Nazis had evacuated some 60,000 others only days earlier in the notorious “Death March” as they fled the Soviet advance.

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