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January 17, 2020 11:02 am

Why Is There a Church at the Largest Jewish Cemetery in the World?

avatar by Ronn Torossian

Opinion

The entrance to Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

World leaders are planning to gather at Auschwitz this year to commemorate the 75th anniversary of its liberation, and Auschwitz survivors will be guests at the event. A delegation of approximately 120 Auschwitz and Holocaust survivors from the United States, Canada, Israel, Australia, and several European countries are expected to take part in the ceremony.

Rabbi Avi Weiss of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, however, will be protesting in front of the Birkenau Church, which is fully functioning and is housed in the former Nazi commandant’s headquarters.

Rabbi Weiss says that, “While we have deep respect for people of all religions and places of worship, a church does not belong at the largest Jewish cemetery in the world.”

One wonders, why must a church stand where one million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust?

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As Rabbi Weiss told me, in the 1980s, Catholics in the village of Brzezinka (the Polish name for Birkenau) established a church in the camp. But they should not have been allowed to do so. It’s simply wrong.

There should be no Catholic place of worship at death camps.

Ronn Torossian is a public relations executive, and the grandson of Holocaust survivors.

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