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SURVIVORS of Auschwitz-Birkenau gathered for commemorations today as they marked the 75th anniversary of the death camp’s liberation by the Soviet Red Army.
Around 200 travelled from Israel, the US, Australia, Peru, Russia, Slovenia and other parts of the world.
They were joined by family members as they remembered those killed in the nazi death camps and said “never again.”
David Marks lost 35 members of his family after they were transported from Romania to Auschwitz.
“We would like that the next generation know what we went through, and that it should never happen again,” he said.
“A dictator doesn’t come up from one day to the other … it happens in micro steps.”
“If we don’t watch it, one day you wake up and it’s too late,” he added.
Seventy-five-year-old Jadwiga Wakulska, who was born in the camp, said that she was saved because of her appearance.
“My mother was holding me in her arms as a four-month-old child, as she was standing in line to the gas chamber,” she said.
“We were coming closer and closer to the gas block and one of the Germans saw me. He looked at me and since I was a blonde baby with blue eyes he took me aside and told me I will survive … My mum says that thanks to the fact that I had a Nordic appearance, I saved her and myself.”
The presidents of Israel and Poland, Reuven Rivlin and Andrzej Duda, laid wreaths together as they warned of the rise of anti-semitism.
Mr Rivlin spoke of “voices which spread hate” and threaten democracy.
“Our duty is to fight anti-semitism, racism and fascist nostalgia — those sick evils,” he said.
The warnings come with the far right on the rise, including in Ukraine which has seen the state-sponsored glorification of nazi collaborators and pogroms against the country’s Roma minority.
In 2015 Ukraine’s parliament passed legislation making two paramilitary groups that committed atrocities during World War II national heroes, making it a crime to deny their heroism.
The Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists collaborated with the nazis in the Holocaust, while the Ukrainian Insurgent Army murdered thousands of Jews and up to 100,000 Poles.
Holocaust Memorial Day marks the slaughter of six million Jews and millions of gypsies, communists, LGBT people, pacifists, disabled people and others by nazi Germany during World War II.
Some 1.1 million were killed at Auschwitz, most of them Jewish. It was finally liberated by the Soviet Red Army on January 27 1945.
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