70th anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz
Assignment For The Future
What remains of the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and extermination camp?
The audience of Auschwitz survivors with the Pope. They gave him the Gift of Remembrance – the statuette of the deliberately inverted “B” in the sickeningly cynicyl inscription above the gate of Auschwitz “Arbeit macht frei” (Work makes you free).
What remains is the emotionally overwhelming remembrance ceremony at the Urania in Berlin on 26 January with Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and the moving speeches of the survivors Eva Fahidi and Marian Turski. Also the touching accounts of their experiences given by young people who worked together in the Auschwitz and Birkenau Memorial to help preserve the places of remembrance: the Volkswagen trainee Sarah Nonnenmacher from Germany, the Polish vocational college student Alexandra Waluch and the young Israeli teacher Joshua Weiner.
The remembrance ceremony in Berlin: this was a very conscious, and a very political decision taken by the Auschwitz survivors. They wanted to remember in the city of the Holocaust, where the Nazis cold-bloodedly decided, treacherously organised and directed the systematic genocide in contempt of all human life. On the one hand, the memories of those who have survived, on the other the prospect of the future embodied by young people and their involvement, to ensure that this horror is never again repeated. These two aspects lie very close to the hearts of the survivors.
The international gathering of survivors and politicians in Auschwitz-Birkenau. The powerful words of Roman Kent, survivor and president of the International Auschwitz Committee, and Kazimierz Albin, who escaped from Auschwitz and then helped to organise the resistance against the Nazis. The words of these two men touched the hearts of the guests at the anniversary ceremony on the Remembrance Day in Auschwitz and those of all the viewers worldwide who watched the reports about this day.
And yet: it is a remembrance day that has quickly been overtaken by current news items, like pebbles that are carried to the beach by the ceaseless new waves from the ocean. The day is transitory, but the words echo throughout time, because they have been written down and can be read again many times. The gestures will be remembered.
The global attention that the 70th anniversary attracted was more than remembrance and commemoration, it also signalled the assignment for the future, the assignment for present and coming generations.
This Remembrance Day is not something to be simply ticked off the agenda. It must neither be allowed to, nor will it mark an end to remembering Auschwitz, the suffering and the murder. Today, survivors are still able to give their accounts of the horrors. Their voices are becoming fewer, and one day they will grow silent. The task of everyone actively involved in preserving this memory, now and in the future, is immense. Nothing should be allowed to be forgotten. Not one single name from the Book Of Names, the overwhelming exhibit sponsored by Israel at the Auschwitz Memorial, should ever be erased from memory. Not one single murdered life should ever be forgotten. It is impossible to ever finish reading this book, to close it and to put it aside.
Anti-Semitism, xenophobia, hatred and violence must be opposed every day and everywhere. Paint bombs thrown at the walls of refugee hostels, political and social exclusion to the point of massive attacks on health and life – not one of these inhuman acts should be simply accepted and become part of normality. No agenda in the world can simply carry on with business as usual in face of such threats.
After seventy years, not even a fraction of those have been brought to justice who ordered or carried out murders, or who acted as cogs in the machinery of systematic murder. Judicial inaction has impeded justice for far too long. Each perpetrator who is taken to court even today, remains a perpetrator and must still be called to account for his or her deeds.
Politicians in all countries are called upon to remain vigilant and to protect those who are forced to suffer exclusion and blind rage.
Similarly, in all countries, the memories and the act of remembrance should be passed on to the young people. A society that willingly forgets remembrance risks shattering its future.
IAC events marking the 70th anniversary
Commemorating the Liberation of Auschwitz Concentration Camp 70 years ago
Overview of the events and activities of the International Auschwitz Committee marking the 70th anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz:
7 January 2015
The Pope receives Auschwitz survivors
On 7 January 2015 in Rome, Pope Francis will be meeting with a group of Auschwitz survivors who are members of the International Auschwitz Committee. The meeting will be marking the 70th anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp.
The survivors from Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic will be accompanied by representatives from the International Youth Meeting Center in Oswiecim / Auschwitz and young trainees from Volkswagen AG who were involved in preservation work at the Auschwitz Memorial for two weeks in 2014.
22 January 2015
Opening of the exhibition "Don’t forget your name — the children of Auschwitz", Berlin
- At 6 p.m.
- in the German Resistance Memorial Center,
Stauffenbergstrasse 13 – 14, 10785 Berlin-Mitte
- Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection Heiko Maas
- Publisher Gerhard Steidl
- Alwin Meyer, author
- Dagmar Lieblova and Jack Mandelbaum, witnesses of the times
26 January 2015
Opening event for the international remembrance of the 70th anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz – Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks at the IAC event in the Urania, Berlin
The Auschwitz survivors Marian Turski from Warsaw and Eva Fahidi will be presenting the International Auschwitz Committee’s remembrance ceremony in Berlin together with young people from Poland, Israel and Germany. At the close of the ceremony, Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel will be speaking to the guests from the fields of politics, culture and society.
The IAC has also invited students from schools.
- 2 p.m.
An der Urania 17, 10787 Berlin
- invited guests only
27 January 2015
Remembrance Ceremony in the Bundestag
Official ceremony of the Republic of Poland in Auschwitz-Birkenau
For further information:
Executive Vice President
International Auschwitz Committee
mobil ++49 . 172 . 393 22 62