Europe gath­ers 70 years af­ter Nazi camps lib­er­ated

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Euro­pean lead­ers on Sun­day re­mem­bered the atroc­i­ties of con­cen­tra­tion camps run by the Nazis and their al­lies dur­ing the Sec­ond World War with cer­e­monies in Ger­many, Croa­tia and France.

At the site of the Ber­gen-Belsen con­cen­tra­tion camp in Ger­many the pres­i­dent of the World Jewish Congress, Ron­ald Lauder, re­called the shock of the first images to emerge from the camp when it was lib­er­ated 70 years ago.

“We saw the bull­doz­ers push­ing naked bod­ies into open pits. The walk­ing skele­tons. The un­be­liev­able sad­ness and loss,” he said at a cer­e­mony at­tended by around 70 sur­vivors.

The somber and emo­tional scenes were mir­rored at Jasen­o­vac in Croa­tia, where fam­i­lies, of­fi­cials and diplo­mats gath­ered to re­mem­ber the tens of thou­sands of vic­tims, mostly Serbs and Jews, who were killed in one of the war’s most bru­tal con­cen­tra­tion camps.

In France, Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande warned that the con­tin­ued ex­is­tence of racism and anti- Semitism meant “the worst could yet re­turn,” as he led com­mem­o­ra­tions at Struthof in the Al­sace re­gion, site of the only Nazi camp on French soil.

More than 50,000 de­por­tees from across Europe lost their lives at the Ber­gen-Belsen camp in west­ern Ger­many be­tween 1941 and 1945, in­clud­ing the young Jewish diarist Anne Frank, in ad­di­tion to 20,000 pris­on­ers of war.

Ger­man Pres­i­dent Joachim Gauck paid trib­ute to UK sol­diers who freed the camp and re­stored “hu­man­ity” to the coun­try.

The Hor­rors of Jasen­o­vac

In Croa­tia, the com­mem­o­ra­tions marked the 70th an­niver­sary of an at­tempted es­cape by around 600 in­mates from the Jasen­o­vac death camp, known as “Croa­tia’s Auschwitz.”

The United States Holo­caust Me­mo­rial Mu­seum es­ti­mates that 100,000 peo­ple — mainly Serbs, Jews, Roma and anti-fas­cist Croa­t­ians — were killed there. Ser­bia claims the fig­ure could be as high as 700,000.

Many had their throats cut with spe­cially de­signed knives. Oth­ers were burned alive in furnaces.

As anti-Nazi par­ti­sans ap­proached shortly af­ter the es­cape at­tempt, the pri­son guards aban­doned the camp, killing re­main­ing in­mates and burning down the build­ings and tor­ture cham­bers as they left.

Croa­tia has sought to dis­tance it­self from the pro-Nazi Us­tasha regime which set up the camp in 1941 and fo­cus on the coun­try’s anti-Nazi par­ti­sans.

France marked the Na­tional Day of De­por­ta­tion on Sun­day, re­call­ing the role the col­lab­o­ra­tionist French regime played in as­sist­ing the Nazi geno­cide.

AFP

Peo­ple at­tend a me­mo­rial cer­e­mony for the tens of thou­sands of vic­tims who were killed at the Jasen­o­vac camp, in Jasen­o­vac on Sun­day, April 26.

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