Legacy of Auschwitz `is still with us'

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The Independent Online
Auschwitz was liberated from the Nazi barbarians, but the world has not been completely liberated from Auschwitz, the former Chief Rabbi, Lord Jakobovits, told a ceremony yesterday at the site of the death camp marking the 50th anniversary of its liberation.

"When neo-Fascists can still form powerful parties in countries like Russia and Italy, when Nazi propaganda can still be freely disseminated in many parts of the world, and when the cloak of respectability can be claimed by fake historians who deny the Holocaust ever took place, we have the ultimate evidence that, 50 years on, the legacy of Auschwitz, city of death, is itself not dead."

Lord Jakobovits, who was representing the Queen, asked those who denied the Holocaust: "Where are my many aunts and uncles, my cousins and numerous other relatives, together with most of my teachers and class-mates, who were deported there - where are they?"

He added: "The real question is: where was man at Auschwitz? Where was the humanity of a cultured nation mesmerised by a rabble-rouser to turn into millions of mass-murderers and their accomplices?"

Helmut Kohl, the German Chancellor, said in a written statement to parliament: "The darkest and most horrific chapter of German history was written at Auschwitz. It was the lowest depth of evil of which humans are capable. Auschwitz is without equal in history in its cold-blooded planning and criminal implementation."

In London yesterday the man who commanded the Soviet infantry division that liberated Auschwitz 50 years ago today said the Allies knew about the Nazi death camps from 1942 and could have acted sooner.

General Vassily Petrenko said: "Precision air strikes on the camps themselves or bombing of the railway lines on which the prisoners were transported could have saved many lives. Why nothing was attempted is a question that will always be asked."

Gen Petrenko will speak on Sunday at a commemorative meeting organised by the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

The Greek Foreign Minister, Karolos Papoulias, cancelled his trip to the Auschwitz ceremony because among the flags to be flown was that of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Greece claims the use of the word "Macedonia" implies a territorial claim to the Greek province of the same name.