73rd Anniversary of the Liberation of the German Nazi Auschwitz camp
On 27 January 2018 more than 60 Auschwitz survivors met at the site of the former Birkenau camp to commemorate the 73rd anniversary of the liberation of the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp. The President of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Duda has assumed honorary patronage of the event.
The eyewitnesses of history were accompanied by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland Mateusz Morawiecki, Deputy Prime Minister Beata Szydło, representatives of the Polish Government, Greek Minister of Digital Policy, Telecommunications and Media Nikolas Pappas, ambassadors and diplomats, representatives of the religious clergy, regional authorities, local authorities, workers of museums and memorials, among others.
In 2018, we commemorate the 75th anniversary of the commissioning of four huge gas chambers and crematoria at the Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp. Consequently, the visual symbol of the anniversary will be a painting by a former Sonderkommando prisoner, David Olère who presented in his post-war paintings and drawings the tragedy of people murdered in the gas chambers.
During the commemoration event two Auschwitz survivors, Maria Hörl i Bronisława Karakulska, took the floor
Maria Hörl was born in 1942 as Galina Bułchakowa. In June 1943 she and her family were arrested during pacification of Belarussian villages. She was deported to Auschwitz together with her mother and three siblings from Majdanek camp on 15 April 1944.
"About my sister I did not find any information about her stay, how she looked like, what was happening to her in the camp. Maybe we were not together. It is only a fact that on January 19th 1945 she was alive. This was the last time when Mother saw us, because she could see us only once a week and it was for about half an hour. Mother was sent to Ravensbrück. From there straight to Russia" - she said.
Galina was liberated on 27 January 1945 and then taken to an orphanage. "From the camp we were transported to Harbutowitz. I did not know about it for many years. As late as during the first meeting with the Auschwitz Children I got to know about it from older ones. Our first meeting was organized by a Memorial curator Tadeusz Szymański. He started searching for documents concerning Auschwitz children. Thanks to him we could get informed about our past," she continued. In 1947 she was adopted by a married couple from Cracow. She found her real family dozens of years later.
Bronisława Karakulska (nee Horowitz) was born in Cracow in 1932. During the occupation she stayed with her parents and brother Ryszard in the ghetto in Cracow. After the ghetto was liquidated, she was transferred to KL Plaszów and then employed in the Oskar Schindler's Enamel Works factory in Zabłocie. In October 1944, together with other female prisoners on the "Schindler's List", she was taken to Auschwitz and then deported to Brünnlitz, where she stayed until liberation.
"During my stay in Auschwitz, I was saved twice during the selection from withdrawal to the crematorium. The first time I was saved thanks to swallowing a diamond, which my mother gave aufseherin Orlowski. The second time my aunt saved me. I was hidden in a copper coal furnace, where I stayed for almost two hours. I owe the fact that I was saved from Auschwitz to Oskar Schindler, who convinced commandant Hoess that women and children are needed as workers in his factory. As of today, I am the only survivor saved by Oskar Schindler living in Krakow," she said
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that German crimes committed at Auschwitz were crimes during which the concept of evil and hatred were raised to a completely different level, unknown until then. "Theis evil, in its purest form, was directed against a man, directed against other nations. People who were brought here, were to be deprived of humanity. Humanity was not to be present here. And in some sense it was not. And I am not talking about those people were deprived of this humanity, not Jews, not Poles, not Roma, not Russians, only those who committed this horrible crime. They deprived themselves of the humanity," the prime minister said.
"This terrible crime that took place then, apart from separating itself from the world with barbed wire and a high wall, at the same time was also separated by ideology. Terrible, dark, horrifying, Hitler's, Nazi ideology. Therefore, there is not the slightest consent to any criminal ideologies, such as German Nazism or communism. And there is no permission for racism, antisemitism, for any such behavior. That is why we will remember all the mechanisms of death that were used then, because we owe this memory today to the living, but we also owe this memory fo the victims of those times," he emphasized.
"In the face of such a tragedy as the Shoah all politicians and rulers, but also all citizens, should ask - what comes next? What comes next? And the answer to this question is at the same time very difficult and easy. We all should fight and care for the truth, for justice and we should give hope to the world hope," concluded Prime Minister Morawiecki.
Minister Wojciech Kolarski from the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland said: "In the name of universal human heritage and future, we, the Poles, will always cherish the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and testify about German crimes. From the very beginning we tried to alert the free world and reveal the truth about the Holocaust. The brave activity of Witold Pilecki, mentioned here, and the mission of Jan Karski are examples of the commitment of the Polish Underground State. The rescue was carried out by the Council for Aid to the Jews "Żegota", operating by the Government Delegation to Poland. Then and today we remember that three million people murdered during the Holocaust - almost half of all its victims - were citizens of the Polish Republic, our fellow citizens."
"Poles and Jews are exceptional custodians of the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and depositaries of the message that comes from this tragedy for the international community. Many people, communities and institutions fulfill these tasks with great dedication, with the key role of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, which has developed universal principles of preserving sites of extermination, and Yad Vashem in Jerusalem." he added.
Israeli ambassador Anna Azari, referring to the changes that are introduced in Poland to the Act on the Institute of National Remembrance, which, she noted, has caused controversies in Israel, said: "I hope that as always, as good friends, Poland and Israel will find their way and a common language of remebering history together. Let us remember all those murdered in the Holocaust." "Israel understands who built KL Auschwitz and who built other camps. Everyone knows that it was not built by Poles," she added.
The Ambassador of the Russian Federation Sergey Andreyev said: "Auschwitz is the place where the cruel tragedy of the past should constitute a strict lesson for the current and future generations, where permanent immunity for the disease of historical amnesia should be produced. Here there should not be any doubts concerning the differentiation between the oppressors, the victims and the liberators. Let the frenzy of Auschwitz never happen again. Let the sky of peace dominate over us all."
The director of the Auschwitz Memorial Dr Piotr M. A. Cywiński emphasized that "the entire modern world is now living more and more as if they have not learnt much from the tragedy of the Shoah and concentration camps". „We are unable to efficiently react to new manifestations of genocidal frenzy. Starvation and death caused by continuous fights do not motivate our institutions and societies to act efficiently. Arms trade and exploitation of nearly free labour overwhelm the poorest regions of the world," he said adding: "At the same time, our democracies suffer from the increase in populism, national egotism, new forms of extreme hate speech. The remilitarization of relationships between the people desecrates our streets and cities. Brown-shirt like groups profane our streets and cities. Did we really change so much within these two or three generations?"
"What is happening to our world? What is happening to us? Has the memory ceased to constitute a commitment? And if it is the hope which dies last, then where else is it to be rooted if not in memory? In the culture which tries to live without being conscious of death, is there still any place for the commemoration of victims?" he said.
"We do not want to answer these questions ourselves, it is easier to put them away, ridicule or discredit. And it does not matter what is happening in Congo, Myanmar or in a neighbouring district or stadium," he stressed.
The second part of the ceremony took place at the Memorial to the Victims on the site of the former Auschwitz II-Birkenau. The rabbis and clergy of various Christian denominations jointly read psalm 42 from the Second Book of Psalms, and participants of the ceremony placed grave candles at the monument commemorating the victims of Auschwitz.
Earlier, on 27 January, survivors along with the management and employees of the Auschwitz Memorial laid wreaths in the courtyard of Block 11 in Auschwitz I. On the occasion of the anniversary an exhibition was opened in the temporary exhibition hall in Block 12 on the site of the former Auschwitz I entitled “Letters... Collection of Władysław Rath". The exhibition presented a fragment of a large collection of documents related to Auschwitz and history of world war II, ghettos and other concentration camps. It was created by a Holocaust survivor Władysław Rath and handed over to the Museum by his family last year
Until the liberation of the camp sites by soldiers of the Red Army, German Nazis murdered approx. 1.1 million people in Auschwitz, mostly Jews, but also Poles, the Roma, Soviet prisoners of war and people of other nationalities. Auschwitz is for the world today, a symbol of the Holocaust and atrocities of World War II. In 2005, the United Nations adopted 27 January as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The Address of Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński during the 72nd Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz
"What has happened to us?"
Today, Primo Levi, Elie Wiesel, Władysław Bartoszewski,
Israel Gutman, Simone Veil, Imre Kertesz
and many other are no longer among the living.
We, the post-war generation, remain more and more lonesome
with the burden of their experience
and we are still unable to manage this burden properly.
The entire modern world is now living more and more as if
they have not learnt much from the tragedy of the Shoah and concentration camps.
We are unable to efficiently react
to new manifestations of genocidal frenzy.
Starvation and death caused by continuous fights
do not motivate our institutions and societies to act efficiently.
Arms trade and exploitation of nearly free labour
overwhelm the poorest regions of the world.
The United Nations ceased to guarantee
any kind of hope.
The European Union is devoured by internal apathy.
At the same time, our democracies suffer from the increase in populism,
national egotism, new forms of extreme hate speech.
The remilitarization of relationships between the people desecrates our streets and cities.
Brown-shirt like groups profane our streets and cities.
Did we really change so much within these two or three generations?
What is happening to our world? What is happening to us?
Has the memory ceased to constitute a commitment?
And if it is the hope which dies last, then where else is it to be rooted
if not in memory?
In the culture which tries to live without being conscious of death,
is there still any place for the commemoration of victims?
Do we really have to complain about the lack of vision
in order to justify our shallowness in reinforcing the good?
Have the opinion polls results and memes from social media
become a permanent dictate of our choices?
Does the market really need only those who are convinced
about their inherent right to convenience
and who do not realize that they also have duties,
however uncomfortable they are?
Does the total of human self-satisfaction constitute the most efficient measure of good in this world?
Seeing at a glance how absurdly unmatched to modern challenges
the education has become, why were we unable to change its meaning?
Is the proportion between the number of Mathematics lessons
compared to such classes as Ethics,
the knowledge of using mass media wisely,
as Civics and the knowledge of internal threats for the society,
as the ability to organize civil opposition,
the skills concerning the creation of projects, for example aid projects – really justified?
Do we really want to build our future on integrals so much?
Why does the History taught remains only a safe study of the past,
without presenting any distinct correlations with the current world and the increasingly insecure future?
We do not want to answer these questions ourselves,
it is easier to put them away, ridicule or discredit.
And it does not matter what is happening in Congo, Myanmar
or in a neighbouring district or stadium.
Apathy has embraced us not because
we do not see great visions for the future,
but because we have veiled the image of our shared,
common – even the closest – past.
This apathy is so deep that today – maybe for the first time in the history of mankind –
while assessing the course of events in so many places – distant and close to us –
it is so difficult for us to distinguish what still constitutes peace from what has already become war.
Has Auschwitz really taught us nothing???
Everyone of us should seek answers to this question in their own conscience.