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WREATHS were laid in London today on the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration and extermination camps by the Soviet Red Army.
On Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD), representatives from the Morning Star, Marx Memorial Library and the Communist Party of Britain were among those who placed flowers on the Soviet War Memorial and the Holocaust Memorial Tree in the Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park, which surrounds the Imperial War Museum.
London borough mayors and officials from embassies also laid wreaths and paid their respects at the event organised by the Soviet War Memorial Trust (SWMT) and Southwark Council.
SWMT secretary Ralph Gibson told the Star that they feel “it is vital that the role played by the USSR in the allied defeat of fascism is remembered.”
He said: “The theme of HMD 2020 is ‘Stand Together’ — and in the face of a global threat to humanity, the allied nations stood together to overcome Hitler and nazi domination of Europe.
“A significant proportion of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust were from the countries of the former USSR — especially the Baltic republics, Belarus and Ukraine.
“The Soviet War Memorial in London commemorates all 27 million Soviet civilians and military personnel who died during the second world war.”
More than 1.1 million mostly Jewish men, women and children died in Auschwitz. The nazi death camp was liberated on January 27, 1945 when Soviet soldiers reached it.
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis warned that Holocaust denial still exists during a speech at the union’s memorial event.
He said: “Concentration camps were designed to make human beings feel superfluous. To convince prisoners they were nothing before they were murdered.
“But today we remember them as human beings who died, in all their differences, in all their humanity, courage, fear, strength and fragility.
“Holocaust denial is a poison, a deliberate, insidious evil wherever it manifests itself. We remember too those who suffered genocide in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.”
Mr Prentis said that they will honour the memories of victims by committing to challenge hate and to ensure that “‘Never Forget, Never Again’ aren’t just words, but a call for action.”
Holocaust Education Trust chief executive Karen Pollock, who was at Auschwitz yesterday, warned that society needs to “do better” for the sake of survivors following a rise in anti-semitism.
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