Monday, January 27, 2020

75th Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz

Today is the seventy-fifth anniversary of the liberation of the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz, near Krakow in Poland. In 2011 I had a week in Krakow, and on the Tuesday was able to take a bus to the Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp and spend the day wandering around. It was bitterly cold, and - as you will see in the photos - there were very few other visitors or tourists. My visit included a pilgrimage to the cell of S. Maximilian Kolbe - one of my heroes. 

The memory of that day is still vivid in my mind - a chilling reminder that while we (rightly) celebrate the heights of love, creativity, beauty and truth to which the human spirit can soar, we dare not overlook the incredible depths of cruelty, hatred and evil to which it can sink.

Just a few days ago at the World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem honouring the liberation of Auschwitz in January 1945, Prince Charles reminded world leaders of this truth. He spoke of the extermination of six million Jewish people during World War II as a "universal human tragedy" that has had a deep impact on all of us, and that must not be forgotten. He said the "lessons of the Holocaust are searingly relevant to this day", pointing out that "hatred and intolerance still lurk in the human heart, still tell new lies, adopt new disguises, and still seek new victims." He is right.

I share with you today, on this anniversary, the photographs I took at the Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp (click on them to enlarge):


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