Leaders urge vigilance on memorial day

2011-01-27 18:04

Oswiecim - The German and Polish presidents on Thursday urged global vigilance to prevent crimes against humanity as they marked international Holocaust remembrance day at the former Auschwitz death camp.

Young people from both nations as well as camp survivors gathered in Oswiecim, southern Poland, for ceremonies marking 66 years since the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex where German Nazis killed more than a million people during World War II.

German President Christian Wulff said: "Since World War II, across the globe there has not been a single day without war. We continue to witness massacres and genocide on an ethnic, racial, religious or linguistic basis.

"This is an appeal to the youth to take responsibility for what is happening. Indifference is the worst threat to democracy and liberty.

"We must ask how to protect the world against crimes, hate and contempt for human rights."

Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski said: "We owe it to those who perished in Auschwitz, but also to those who were killed not long ago in the Balkans and elsewhere,"

Auschwitz survivors and youngsters accompanied the two leaders to ceremonies on the death camp site held annually on the anniversary of its January 27 1945 liberation by the Soviet Red Army.

During World War II, Nazi Germany killed an estimated 1.1 million people at the camp complex it set up near Krakow in occupied southern Poland.

One million Jews from all over Europe perished, mostly in the camp gas chambers, along with tens of thousands of others including Roma, Soviet prisoners of war and homosexuals.