Former Auschwitz prisoners gather at Nazi camp to mark liberation

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — Former Auschwitz prisoners marked the 71st anniversary of their liberation during a ceremony at the Nazi death camp.

The Holocaust survivors gathered Wednesday at the camp, now a memorial and museum, in southern Poland, many carrying flowers.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day is observed on January 27, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by the Soviet army.

During a ceremony Wednesday at the European Parliament to march International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the parliament’s president Martin Schultz said “it hurts that in today’s Europe Jews again live in fear.”

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“It is unacceptable that Jews are reluctant to wear their traditional clothes and display religious symbols in the public because of fear of reprisals and aggression. It is saddening when Jewish people consider leaving Europe because they no longer feel safe,” Schultz said. “Jewish friends and neighbors, we stand with you against those who seek to harm you. We will never let them make you outsiders in your own country. Europe is your home today, tomorrow and forever.”

European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor told the European Parliament that the governments of the member states should do more to protect their Jewish citizens.

“We are not asking for any special favors as Jews, we are asking for governments to fulfill their responsibilities towards us as European citizens. We ask for the same rights to life, security and safety as any other European,” Kantor said.

An Austrian Auschwitz survivor, Ruth Kluger, spoke in front of the German parliament in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Later on Wednesday, U.S. President Barack Obama will speak at a ceremony honoring Righteous Among the Nations at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C.

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