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Archive for Saturday, January 28, 2006

Leaders commemorate Holocaust

January 28, 2006

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— European leaders remembered the Holocaust on Friday, the 61st anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, with commemorations shadowed by concern over anti-Israeli remarks by Iran's president.

Several leaders used the occasion to reject Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's statement that Israel should be wiped off the map and his description of the Holocaust - the murder of 6 million Jews by the forces of German dictator Adolf Hitler - as a "myth."

On a clear, cold day at Auschwitz, Polish Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz placed a wreath and bowed his head at the foot of the main memorial in honor of the people who died at the Nazi-run camp.

The Holocaust "is a crime that tarnishes human history," Marcinkiewicz said. "Let it be a warning today and for the future."

Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz and the neighboring Birkenau camp on Jan. 27, 1945, as World War II neared its end. Some 1.5 million people, most of them Jews, died there from gassing, starvation, exhaustion, beatings and disease.

Russia's Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar performed a remembrance prayer at a commemoration event at the Moscow Writers' House. He lamented that extremist sentiments were gaining popularity around the world.

"Preachers of extremist views must once and for all be excluded from the political and social life of the country," Lazar said.

Hungarians release 600 balloons in front of the Parliament building Friday on the U.N.'s first International Holocaust Remembrance Day in Budapest, Hungary. Some balloons were carrying the names of those who lost their lives in the Holocaust.

Hungarians release 600 balloons in front of the Parliament building Friday on the U.N.'s first International Holocaust Remembrance Day in Budapest, Hungary. Some balloons were carrying the names of those who lost their lives in the Holocaust.

Germany's parliamentary president Norbert Lammert urged that the lessons of the Holocaust continue to influence national policy, referring to recent remarks by Ahmadinejad in warning of the danger of anti-Semitism.

Lammert stressed that the need to commemorate the millions of Jews and others murdered by the Nazis will not diminish with time.

"The past weeks have shown us how much not only we Germans need this remembrance day," Lammert said at a special session of parliament. "With dismay we have had to note that today, even presidents insist on describing the Holocaust as a fairy tale and go so far as to make anti-Semitic remarks."

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