US President Barack Obama noted humanity’s “obligation” to condemn and fight against “rising” anti-Semitism, including the denial of the Holocaust, on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.
“Honoring the victims and survivors,” means recognising “the value and dignity of each person. It demands from us the courage to protect the persecuted and speak out against bigotry and hatred,” Obama said in a statement released by the White House.
“The recent terrorist attacks in Paris serve as a painful reminder of our obligation to condemn and combat rising anti-Semitism in all its forms, including the denial or trivialisation of the Holocaust,” the president added.
Obama went on to say that this anniversary “is an opportunity to reflect on the progress” the world has made in confronting this “terrible chapter” in human history, as well as on the continuing “efforts to end genocide.”
“We commemorate all of the victims of the Holocaust, pledging never to forget,” he emphasised.
The president also said that he had sent a special delegation to Poland to be on hand at Tuesday’s official commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, which housed millions of people under the Nazi regime.
The Red Army liberated the extermination camp Jan. 27, 1945.
Dozens of camp survivors placed a floral offering and lit candles at the wall of death at Auschwitz, where they honored the memory of their fallen companions.
Participating in the ceremony were representatives of more than 40 countries and some 300 survivors, in addition to several European presidents, including France’s François Hollande, Germany’s Joachin Gauk, Ukraine’s Petro Poroshenko and the host of the event, Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski.
It is estimated that more than 1 million people, mostly Jews, perished at the two camps – Auschwitz and Birkenau – from overwork, starvation, disease, beatings and executions. Many were also sent to the gas chambers by their Nazi captors.