January 27: the world will honor the Victims together with Survivors
A delegation of approximately 120 Auschwitz and Holocaust Survivors from the United States, Canada, Israel, Australia, and several European countries will be able to take part in the main commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz thanks to the support of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Foundation from New York City under the Leadership of Ronald S. Lauder. The Survivors will join a group of former prisoners from Poland who will come to the Memorial on January 27, 2020.
"Most of the knowledge of post-war generations about Auschwitz came from Survivors' testimonies. It was also them who established the Auschwitz Memorial after the war and wrote down the history that became the foundation of our memory and remembrance. On January 27, 2020, 75 years after Auschwitz, a large group of Survivors - thanks to Ronald Lauder and other donors - will commemorate the anniversary of liberation with us. January 27 is the most important date for this place: its importance is shared by all former prisoners, both from Poland and from around the world," said Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński, the director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum.
"Nothing is more important for the upcoming 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz than having survivors of this horrible place present. They are the direct link, the witnesses to this atrocious crime. That is why I am willing to do whatever is needed to bring them back. Let the world see them, let the world hear them, let the world remember," said Ronald S. Lauder.
Initially, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Foundation planned to organize a delegation of 75 Survivors and their accompanying persons. However, thanks to the additional funds gifted by the Foundation's donors, the group has grown to over 120 witnesses of history. So far, 55 survivors from the USA, 15 from Canada, 15 from European countries, ten from Israel, and one from Australia have confirmed their participation.
"It is important for me to come to the Memorial for the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau to remember the men, women, and children who were murdered, tortured and dehumanized there, and to tell the world all of these atrocities did happen," said Rachmil Hakman, born in Radom in 1925. He was deported to Auschwitz in June 1942, and on January 18, 1945, he was evacuated in the death march. He was liberated on May 6, 1945, in a little village near Greifenberg.
"It is important for everyone to remember what happened at Auschwitz-Birkenau because the number of survivors who can give their testimonies is dwindling, and such evil must never happen again," he added.
Mike Bornstein from Żarki was deported to Auschwitz in July 1944. He was in the camp until the day of liberation on January 27, 1945. "I spent most of my life trying to forget Auschwitz and all the reasons I have a tattoo on my arm. I like to focus on happier things -- I am blessed with a wonderful life now. But I was one of the youngest survivors, and that makes me one of the last survivors here now. I feel an obligation to be at the 75th anniversary, to stand up and say, 'I was there. I survived. We can't forget what happened at Auschwitz.' I also want to send a message. I think it's important to show the strength of the Jewish people and the power of optimism. I'll be standing in Auschwitz with one of my twelve grandkids. My life is good," he said.
"There's so much discrimination in the world right now - not just against Jewish people, but against all minorities. It has to stop. We have to remember the Holocaust so that no one ever forgets what happens when we let hatred run rampant. I hope this event reminds people to stand up against injustices and be kind and tolerant of others," Mike Bornstein added.
The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Foundation is an American non-profit organization whose activities are committed to the protection of the Memorial Site. It supports the Polish Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation.
On January 27 2020, former prisoners will sit in a tent to be erected above the historical gate of the Auschwitz II-Birkenau site. Official delegations from dozens of countries around the world, as well as representatives of international institutions, social organisations, clerics, employees of museums and memorial sites devoted to this subject, will listen to their words. The media will broadcast the event live all over the world.
The year 2020 will be special due to two anniversaries related to the memory: The 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Stockholm Declaration, under which the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research was established, today the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance; and the 15th anniversary of the adoption of January 27 as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day by the United Nations General Assembly. Both events symbolically took place on January 27, on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Consequently, the major international commemoration event will be organized at the Auschwitz Memorial.
The President of the Republic of Poland, Andrzej Duda, has assumed honorary patronage over the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz. Further information on this event will be published on the website: 75.auschwitz.org.