On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, former prisoners mark liberation at Auschwitz

(JTA) – Former Auschwitz prisoners marked the 71st anniversary of their liberation during a ceremony at the Nazi death camp on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The Holocaust survivors gathered Wednesday at the camp, now a memorial and museum, in southern Poland, many carrying flowers.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day is observed on Jan. 27, the anniversary of the Auschwitz liberation by the Soviet army.

During a ceremony Wednesday at the European Parliament to mark the day, the parliament’s president said “it hurts that in today’s Europe Jews again live in fear.”

“It is unacceptable that Jews are reluctant to wear their traditional clothes and display religious symbols in the public because of fear of reprisals and aggression,” Martin Schultz said. “It is saddening when Jewish people consider leaving Europe because they no longer feel safe.

“Jewish friends and neighbours, we stand with you against those who seek to harm you. We will never let them make you outsiders in your own country. Europe is your home today, tomorrow and forever.”

European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor told the European Parliament that the governments of its member states should do more to protect their Jewish citizens.

“We are not asking for any special favours as Jews, we are asking for governments to fulfil their responsibilities towards us as European citizens,” Kantor said. “We ask for the same rights to life, security and safety as any other European.”

An Austrian Auschwitz survivor, Ruth Kluger, spoke before the German parliament in honour of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Later Wednesday, U.S. President Barack Obama will speak at a ceremony honoring Righteous Among the Nations at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C.

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