“We have a dark premonition because we know” – the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz

Oświęcim, 27 January – The Platform (PEMC) president Dr. Łukasz Kamiński and the Executive Board Member Dr. Wolfgang-Christian Fuchs took part during the official commemoration event on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the former Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz on 27 January.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day was established in 2005 by the United Nations to commemorate the Jewish victims murdered during World War II by Nazi Germany. The date of the celebrations, set for 27 January, is directly related to the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp by Red Army soldiers on that day in 1945.

The Auschwitz concentration camp was established by Third Reich authorities in 1940 for Polish prisoners. In 1942 it became a place of mass extermination of Jews. By the time of its liberation, at least 1.1 million people had been killed in the camp, mainly Jews, but also Poles, Roma, Soviet prisoners of war and people of other nationalities. The complex is one of the symbols of Nazi crimes and every year becomes a focal point of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

This year’s anniversary was honoured with the participation of two hundred former prisoners of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, who came to Oświęcim from other parts of Poland, from Israel, the United States, Canada, Australia and other countries. Dozens of official state delegations and emissaries of international organisations attended, including monarchs, presidents and prime ministers. The Platform of European Memory and Conscience delegation was invited to take part at the official commemoration event as well.

This year was the 75th anniversary of the liberation. Its motto was the words from a manuscript found at Auschwitz-Birkenau, written by Załmen Gradowski, a Polish Jew killed in the camp: “We have a dark premonition because we know.” Gradowski’s notes in Yiddish described the Holocaust from the perspective of a Jewish prisoner incorporated into the Sonderkommando, and act as a shocking testimony of these tragic times.

The ceremony began with a speech by the Polish President Andrzej Duda. Then the main guests of the ceremony, survivors of Auschwitz-Birkenau, spoke, strongly stating that the memory of these tragic events is crucial for preventing such tragedy from ever happening again. Marian Turski‘s appeal was one of the strongest voices: “Do not be indifferent when you see historical lies. Do not be indifferent when you see the past stretched for the aims of current politics. Do not be indifferent when any minority is discriminated.” Let us also remember Piotr Cywiński‘s words, which reminded us that “Worse than forgetting is such memory that does not stir moral apprehension”. The Platform of European Memory and Conscience stands for this thought.

Photos by: Paweł Sawicki (Muzeum Auschwitz)