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January 27, 2015 1:17 pm

On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Leaders Mark 70 Years Since Auschwitz Liberation

avatar by JNS.org

Former Auschwitz concentration camp prisoners and museum staff laid wreaths and candles at the Death Wall. Photo: BBC screenshot.

JNS.org – More than 300 Holocaust survivors along with world leaders gathered at the site of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp on Tuesday to commemorate the 1.1 million people killed there, as well as the millions of other victims killed during the Holocaust, as part of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Leaders are expected to attend from Poland, France, Germany, and several other European countries, while America is sending Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, who is Jewish. Absent from the commemoration are Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obama.

In a statement, the White House said that the anniversary is an “opportunity to reflect on the progress we have made confronting this terrible chapter in human history and on our continuing efforts to end genocide.”

“The recent terrorist attacks in Paris serve as a painful reminder of our obligation to condemn and combat rising antisemitism in all its forms, including the denial or trivialization of the Holocaust,” the White House said.

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Meanwhile, at a reception in Krakow with 100 Auschwitz survivors on the eve of the gathering on Monday, World Jewish Congress President Ronald Launder warned against the growing antisemitism in Europe, and said European governments must adopt a “zero tolerance” policy on jihadists and those preaching hate in Europe.

“Jews want to leave Europe because they feel their governments are not protecting them,” Lauder said.

At the event in Krakow, American-Jewish film director Steven Spielberg—director of the famed Holocaust motion picture Schindler’s List—said the stories of Holocaust survivors have “everlasting value.”

“We need to be preserving places like Auschwitz so people can see for themselves how evil ideologies can become tangible acts of murder,” Spielberg said.

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