Auschwitz concentration camp marks liberation day

Warsaw, Jan 27 (IANS) The celebrations of the 70th anniversary of KL Auschwitz concentration camp liberation began in the southern Polish town of Oswiecim Tuesday morning.

More than a hundred former prisoners and Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski together placed flower wreaths under the Execution Wall in the the former Nazi camp, Xinhua news agency reported.

Placing a wreath made of white and red carnations, symbolising Polish national colours, was the first part of commemorative events in the 70th anniversary of the camp’s liberation, which is also the International Holocaust Memorial Day.

Former prisoners and other participants went through the main gate that sports the slogan “Arbeit macht frei” (Work makes you free) written on it. Many wore characteristic clothes with white-blue stripes symbolising the striped camp uniforms the prisoners were forced to wear.

The Execution Wall is located in the courtyard of Block No.11 and since 1941 was a place where the SS men carried out executions by shooting thousands of prisoners, mostly of Polish origin. It is also the traditional place for paying tribute to the Auschwitz victims.

The main commemorative celebration events will take place in the afternoon by the main gate of Auschwitz II Birkenau, where the German Nazis carried out the mass extermination of Jews in the gas chambers.

More than 300 former prisoners as well as the representatives of 49 countries, including presidents, prime ministers and crowned heads will participate.

According to the Auschwitz Museum, among the invited guests, there are French President Francois Hollande, German President Joachim Gauck and Ukrainian President Petro Proshenko, as well as a Russian delegation.

There will also be delegations from Israel, the US and the Vatican. Moreover, many other countries supporting the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation have sent their diplomatic representatives.

KL Auschwitz concentration camp was founded in 1940 by the Germans mainly with the aim of imprisoning Polish captives. Since 1942, it became Europe’s one of the biggest places of Jewish extermination, with more than 1.1 million people killed, including Poles, Romanians, Soviet captives and others.

The camp was liberated Jan 27, 1945, by the Red Army soldiers of the former Soviet Union, the date which eventually became the Holocaust Victims Memory Day.