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Public Statements

Commending Countries and Organizations for Marking 60th Anniversary of Liberation of Auschwitz

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. SCHIFF. Madam Speaker, I rise today in support of H. Res. 39, to recognize and honor the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, and to honor the 13 million who perished in the Nazi concentration camps.

It is important not only that we continue to study the terrible lessons of the Holocaust, but that we also express our gratitude to the Allied troops whose service and sacrifice helped liberate those trapped in these factories of death.

The Holocaust represented the systematic persecution and murder of approximately 6 million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. Dubbed the ``final solution'' by the Nazi bureaucrats who ran it, the attempted extermination of European Jewry was carried out in camps across occupied Europe. The center of this hell was Auschwitz.

A complex of camps, Auschwitz was built 37 miles west of Krakow, near the prewar German-Polish border, to extract the labor of its prisoners before they were exterminated in gas chambers that ran around-the-clock. It is estimated that at least 1.3 million people were deported to Auschwitz between 1940 and 1945; of these, at least 1.1 million were murdered there.

Sixty years ago, on January 27, 1945, the Soviet army liberated Auschwitz and freed more than 7,000 people, most of whom were ill and dying.

Thirteen years ago, I was able to see this camp firsthand when I visited Poland. Decades after the liberation, the thought of all the men, women and children murdered there was and still is chilling and difficult to endure.

The United Nations held a special session yesterday to commemorate the Holocaust and the liberation of the camps. The ceremony featured speakers Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wollowitz and the foreign ministers of Israel, Germany, and France.

Even as we struggle to come to terms with events that happened more than half a century ago, we must recognize that there are other genocides occurring in the world. In the wake of the conflagration that befell the Jews during the Nazi era, the world pledged that ``Never Again'' would we stand by as others were hunted and murdered just because they existed. Sadly, we have not yet lived up to that simple vow--the dead of Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and now Darfur, have joined the Jews of Europe. I hope that the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz will act as a catalyst for a re-dedication of humanity to ending the crime of genocide.



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