Archive for Thursday, January 27, 2005

Anti-Semitism spreading 60 years after Holocaust

January 27, 2005


— Vandalized Jewish graves in western Europe. Growing support for extreme-right parties in Germany. Comments by France's far-right leader playing down the evils of the Nazi occupation.

Decades after World War II, many think the lessons of the Holocaust still need reinforcing in Europe. Survivors from Auschwitz, gathered for today's 60th anniversary of the Nazi death camp's liberation, vowed to keep telling their story to make sure that happens.

Trudy Spira, who came from Venezuela for the ceremonies, said Wednesday that renewed efforts to educate people about the dangers of hatred were even more important as the generation that experienced the Holocaust ages.

"It's very important, you are the last generation that can talk to the survivors, we are every day less," said Spira, who was deported to Auschwitz with her family as an 11-year-old from Slovakia in 1944.

An estimated 1 million Holocaust survivors are still alive.

"We can give living testimony ... to let the world know, to try to get them to learn even though they don't, so that it doesn't happen again," Spira, 72, said at a news conference sponsored by the European Jewish Forum in Krakow, about an hour's drive from Oswiecim, the town where the camp is located.

Leaders including Vice President Dick Cheney, Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Jacques Chirac and Israeli President Moshe Katsav are to light candles and hear interfaith prayers at the sprawling camp to mark the arrival of advancing Soviet troops on Jan. 27, 1945, as World War II neared its end.

Six million Jews died in the Nazi camps, along with several million others, including Soviet prisoners of war, Gypsies, homosexuals and political opponents of the Nazis.

Reports in western Europe of increasing anti-Jewish incidents such as vandalizing graves and a walkout last week by members of a small German far-right party from an Auschwitz commemoration in the Saxony state legislature are cited as examples of why it's important to go on teaching about the Holocaust.

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