The 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau will be marked at a time when the world must unite to “fight the plague of violence” against people based on their religion or ethnicity, the director of the Auschwitz Memorial said.
Three hundred Auschwitz survivors will gather in front of the Nazi death camp next Tuesday – Holocaust Memorial Day – and will be joined by dignitaries from 39 different countries.
Dr Piotr M.A. Cywinski, the director of the Auschwitz Memorial, said next week’s commemoration at the site will be a poignant one.
“This 70th anniversary will be the last occasion we’ll be able to commemorate with so many survivors in our midst.
“This will be a truly global gathering at a time when the world must come together to fight the plague of violence against people based on their religious or ethnic backgrounds,” the historian said
In a historic recreation, four of the 13 Holocaust survivors who appeared as children in a photo taken by Alexander Vorontsov while they were liberated at Auschwitz-Birkenau, will return for the commemoration.
Ronald S. Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress, said: “We have worked hard to preserve Auschwitz so that future generations will never forget the horrors that took place here.
“With intolerance on the rise across the globe, there has never been a more critical moment to be reminded of our duty to speak up to prevent such atrocities from happening again.”
In 2014, more than 1.5 million people worldwide visited the museum, but the physical condition of every part of the camp has deteriorated over time.
Martin Becker, a survivor who has returned to the camp, said: “We cannot let Auschwitz turn to dust. Future generations need to know what transpired there and see the lessons that can be learned from such a dark moment in history.”
Jacek Kastelaniec, director general of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, said: “This gathering is about more than honouring the terrible sacrifices of Auschwitz victims alive and passed.
“The event is a grim reminder that evil and genocide continue in today’s increasingly violent world.”
The organisers of the commemoration are the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and the International Auschwitz Council.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, and from Ireland, Charles Flanagan, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, are expected to attend.
More than a million European Jews were murdered by the Nazis at Auschwitz.
In 1947 the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum was created at the site of former Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau camps.
There is a global fundraising effort under way to save the deteriorating site.